Readers-you all know that I specialize in federal criminal defense, and handle investigations and defend against actual federal criminal prosecutions here in Atlanta and throughout the United States. Today, I am plowing through some “discovery” materials, and that caused me to reflect on the changes to this part of my practice during my 40 plus years of defending clients against the “Feds.”
Federal law requires that the Government provide certain materials to the Defendant and his or her attorney. Some people call this the “evidence” but it is both broader and more narrow than that.
By law, the Feds have to give the Defendant all documents, physical evidence, and any expert testing that the prosecutor intends to use during a trial. Note that the last line said nothing about what the witnesses say. Under the law, the federal prosecutor can hold back the witness statements until the actual trial, which is, obviously, grossly unfair. In addition, Government also needs to hand over any “Brady” material, which means anything tending to show that then Defendant is not guilty.