New discovery laws has counties scrambling

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York State legislators approved reforms to discovery law in April as part of a package of criminal justice system initiatives. Counties are now struggling to come up with the resources to make it work.

Supporters of reforming criminal discovery say it could make a big difference for the accused.

“Failure to provide sufficient information before accepting a guilty plea is often enough to create a miscarriage of justice,” Kate Powers, NYS Office of Attorney General, said.

“Discovery” involves how and what information and evidence is exchanged between the parties in a case during pre-trial.

Beginning January 1st, the prosecution automatically will need to give discovery to the defense within 15 days of an arraignment.

While a spokesperson for the AG’s office called the reform “the right thing to do,” even their office alone estimates the need for 20 more staff members, 500-thousand dollars now and 9.7 million dollars in investments in the coming years.

“We will need a significant infusion of resources in order to do justice to this new law. And, they’re not alone in the call,” Powers said.

“I cannot stress enough how the process of obtaining and preparing discovery for exchange is extremely labor-intensive,” David Hoovler, DAASNY President, said.

District Attorneys from across the state asked lawmakers for more funding. The District Attorneys Association of New York President said upstate counties estimate the need for upwards of 100-million dollars to implement it.

Codes Committee Chair Senator Jamaal Bailey acknowledged the funding concerns today saying he’s never said not to give DA’s money.

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