Discovery in State Criminal Justice

Forthcoming, Academy for Justice: A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (Erik Luna ed., 2017)

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-15

16 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2017 Last revised: 8 Jun 2017

Darryl K. Brown

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: June 6, 2017

Abstract

Rules of pretrial evidence disclosure vary widely in state criminal justice systems. In all states discovery is more restricted than it is in civil litigation. In a substantial minority of states, it remains dramatically restricted. That is in part a relic of the common law tradition when it was assumed most cases would be resolved by trial. But trials are now rare; nearly all convictions are the result of a plea bargain. The pretrial stage is the only place in which adversarial process operates and in which parties can evaluate evidence. Most states have adopted broader discovery rules in light of this reality, because disclosure failures have led to wrongful convictions, and because experience show that risks related to certain disclosures are easily managed. The primary agenda for discovery reform in state criminal justice is to convince those states that still adhere to outdated disclosure policies to join the majority of their peers and require more evidence to be exchanged between prosecutors and defense attorneys prior to plea bargaining.

Keywords: discovery, disclosure, criminal procedure, pre-trial procedure

Suggested Citation

Brown, Darryl K., Discovery in State Criminal Justice (June 6, 2017). Forthcoming, Academy for Justice: A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (Erik Luna ed., 2017) ; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2951166

Darryl K. Brown (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
966
Rank
18,133
Abstract Views
6,576