New Discovery Rules

From the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - http://www.criminaljustice.org

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has promulgated new "self-executing, automatic" criminal discovery rules (effective date Dec. 1, 1998) which should serve as a model for every federal court in the country. For example, the new rules explicitly define exculpatory evidence which must be disclosed as material and favorable to the defendant because it tends to (1) cast doubt on defendant's guilt as to any essential element in any count in the indictment or information; (2) cast doubt on the admissibility of evidence that the government anticipates offering in its case-in-chief, that might be subject to a motion to suppress or exclude, which would, if allowed, be appealable pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3731; (3) cast doubt on the credibility or accuracy of any evidence that the government anticipates offering in its case-in-chief; or (4) diminish the degree of the defendant's culpability or the defendant's Offense Level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The new discovery rules also prompted conforming amendments to the local rules governing motions practice and speedy trial excludable delays. Because these rules could be a veritable goldmine of persuasive precedent for creative discovery practice in federal courts everywhere, federal criminal practitioners are encouraged to download them from www.criminaljustcie.org. In the future, we will also be permanently archiving the files on our website.