To: JEFFREY D. KLEIN, NYS Senator, DEAN G. SKELOS, NYS Senator, and DIANE J. SAVINO, NYS Senator
STOP WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE in criminal cases: Support Open and Early Discovery!
Stop the unfair practice of withholding evidence in criminal cases.
Why is this important?
In New York State it is legal practice to withhold information pertinent to criminal cases from a defendant and his defense attorney until the very moment of trial. This is not because the information is unavailable; it is because the prosecution does not have to turn over such information earlier. For example, prosecutors are not required by law to hand over police reports, prior testimony, and any other evidence to the defendant until trial begins, and in some cases, not until the first witness takes the stand. A prosecutor does not even have to turn over evidence that might help a defendant or cast doubt on his guilt unless the prosecutor thinks it is important. This practice costs both taxpayers and the judicial system a great deal of time and money.
We request that New York State Senate Bill Number: S4089-2013 gets voted out of the Senate Standing Committee on Codes as new Criminal Procedure Law Article 245, thereby repealing CPL 240. As a result, CPL Article 245 would require that both the prosecutor and defense attorney provide the opposing party with extensive discovery early in a criminal case. In addition, CPL Article 245 would include a mechanism for prosecutors with legitimate concerns about the safety of their witnesses or with on-going investigations to withhold or redact any evidence or information covered by the statute and to move for a protective order.