The Legal Aid Society Proposes Criminal Discovery Reform
FRIDAY, APRIL 03, 2009

The Legal Aid Society has submitted a proposal for modernizing and making more fair New York State’s restrictive criminal discovery rules. Specifically, we suggest that New York State should repeal Criminal Procedure Law Article 240 and enact a modern discovery system. To this end, we have drafted the language for a comprehensive new discovery statute, “Article 245,” which draws on and supplements discovery rules and practices from other states. In our view, this is the best way to eliminate root and branch the gross unfairness and inefficiencies of current New York discovery practice.

The 150-page report and proposal, Criminal Discovery Reform in New York, first sets forth in detail the main arguments in support of criminal discovery reform in New York State. Then it proposes the full statutory language for a new “Article 245.” Next it reiterates the provisions of “Article 245” with explanatory commentaries interspersed after each provision. It summarizes five past proposals for discovery reform in New York. Finally it surveys the discovery rules of several states that have successfully practiced more fair and more efficient criminal discovery. The Legal Aid Society urges practitioners, judges, court administrators, and legislators and their staffs to review the report and proposal here. It was prepared by John Schoeffel, an attorney with the special litigation unit of the Criminal Practice of The Legal Aid Society.

Download the Proposal for Discovery Reform