Improve Discovery Reform
The new discovery laws are designed to ensure fairness to defendants by providing early disclosure of essential documents. But to ensure that fairness, individual ADAs have to be relieved of the burden of collecting all of these materials – sometimes hundreds of documents – so they can concentrate on investigating their cases and seeing that justice is done.
As it is now, document disclosure and other administrative demands fill the bulk of an ADA’s work week, leaving little time to focus on the real work of thoroughly investigating cases. After an arrest, assigned ADAs have only a few days to locate, obtain, redact, reproduce, draft protective orders, and provide defense attorneys with the voluminous amounts of discovery in each and every case they pick up in order to comply with the new discovery laws. This practice is sending droves of talented ADAs out the door seeking other jobs in large part because they are bogged down in paperwork, and not doing what they were hired to do – to do the right thing in their cases.
My proposal to cut down on this time-consuming work is to create a Discovery Bureau, staffed by specially trained analysts and paralegals, and supervised by senior part-time and full-time ADAs, which will collect the discovery and provide it to the defense. Senior ADAs will train and supervise analysts on locating, obtaining, redacting, and reproducing discovery. For the sake of continuity, analysts will be assigned cases when the cases first come in and will stay on the case with the assigned ADAs through the case’s completion.
The creation of a Discovery Bureau will allow ADAs to get back to doing the important work of focusing on the integrity of the case. By doing this, in the end, mistakes will be avoided and justice will be served.