The Legal Aid Society Calls for a Modern Discovery Statute to Replace New York State's Outmoded and Unfair Criminal Discovery Rules

The Legal Aid Society has been a leading voice in the movement to reform and modernize New York State’s highly restrictive criminal discovery rules. In the past year, we have been a driving force in the deliberations on discovery reform being conducted in both Chief Judge Lippman’s New York State Justice Task Force and the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Criminal Discovery.

Our leadership role on this most pivotal issue in New York’s criminal justice system crystallized in 2009, when we issued a report entitled Criminal Discovery Reform in New York: A Proposal to Repeal C.P.L. Article 240 and to Enact a New C.P.L. Article 245. Our report advocated that New York’s outmoded and unfair criminal discovery rules in Criminal Procedure Law Article 240 should be replaced by a modern discovery statute. We suggested the full statutory language for a new C.P.L. "Article 245." Detailed explanatory commentaries after each provision described its purpose, its contents, and the current New York law it would supersede. The report also marshaled the main arguments for criminal discovery reform in a nine-page essay; and it surveyed discovery rules and practices in comparable States that have successfully practiced more fair and more efficient criminal discovery for years. The full 150-page report is available here.

In 2013, we revised the statutory language of our proposed C.P.L. "Article 245" to incorporate suggestions and address concerns raised by various interested parties. Our current proposal is available here.

We hope that this modified proposal for a new "Article 245" represents a substantial step in the focused negotiations, open-minded and creative discussions, and reasonable compromises that will lead to meaningful criminal discovery reform. We look forward to working together with all of the interested parties to achieve this vital, decades-overdue goal.