But a defense lawyer in Virginia just posted about the same issue, saying how state's-oriented the system is there. And reading his blog entry I was very surprised because here we do things very differently.
Check his post out here and then read on.
We have what we call an open-file policy, which isn't 100 percent true but almost is. I'll list out the major pieces of information and show how (or if) we provide these to the defense. Also, bear in mind that unlike Jamison's jurisdiction, we provide this info well before trial: weeks usually, and in some cases months before:
Police report -- defense counsel fills out a form and we provide a complete copy of the offense report (we do redact out sensitive information). Usually the first thing they ask for and get.
Defendant's statement -- any written or recorded statement is usually the second thing defense counsel asks for, and gets.
Videos -- this would be in-car videos, or store surveillance tapes. I have my investigator make a copy and provide it to defense counsel. Some ADAs don't like to give out copies, instead making the tapes available for viewing at our offices.
Criminal histories -- my investigator will run the CH of the defendant and I'll provide a copy to the defense. Same goes for copies of CHs for witnesses (though not until we are sure they are actually going to testify).
Photos -- if there are not many, I will provide copies. If I have a lot, like in a murder case, I'll invite defense counsel to my office to look through them, and I'll try to let them know which ones I intend to offer at trial.
Forensic reports -- I usually provide copies of these when asked to. I always make them available for inspection.
Notices -- we provide a list of potential witnesses, as well as a list of experts we intend to call at trial. We also send out a notice listing all the offenses and "bad acts" we believe the defendant has committed that we'll seek to have admitted at trial, either during the guilt phase or the punishment phase.
Exculpatory/mitigating information -- under the Constitution we are required to share with the defense any information that (put simply) could help the defense.
And what do we get in return?
Yep, that's right, in Austin we do not have "reciprocal discovery," which is to say the defense doesn't have to share with us any witnesses, any evidence they might come across, or anything else.
In fact, I've tried several cases where the defense calls a witness and I'll look at my co-counsel and say, "Who?" On the one hand it's frustrating because no one likes to have to ask questions completely unprepared, but on the other hand it does make life interesting. And interesting is good.
Oh, and just to be clear: