We have traversed a long journey with Ms. Rand and her ideas. How about you? Who is John Gault?
The comments for the last few days have been rife with opinions on the SAO's policy, for the moment limited to small traffic cases, of informing attorneys of the existence of police reports, and leaving it to the attorneys to go get the reports themselves.
A few thoughts.
1)The State apparently is within their rights to do this.
2)Be careful what you ask for, because you may get it.
The system we have works best when there is cooperation between opposing counsel in moving the discovery process along. At the moment, the prosecutor's office appears to be just shifting the burden for budgetary reasons to the clerk's office, which is equally understaffed with budget issues to handle the increased requests for copies of files.
There must be a better way.
First of all technology should be utilized. Many reports can be scanned and posted for downloading, or the state could accept emails for requests that items be provided via email. If you accept that the prosecutor's office will have to dedicate personnel for monitoring attorneys who want to review and copy files, why not use those employees to scan and email the items instead?
Second- there is a big difference between a traffic print out- which can be shared in court- and a police report that may contain exculpatory material. We have no problem with a traffic print out not being provided, but the reports should be.
Third- the issue should be prioritized. If this first small step is not the thin edge of a larger wedge in which the prosecutor's office is going to incrementally stop providing all reports, then defense attorneys need to draw the line now and defend it.
But if the state is trying to save money on cases that routinely do not go to trial or can be tried without a lot of discovery, then it's probably a good idea.
Fourth: What we did not see was any cooperative effort on the part of the prosecution. Unilateral decisions (even if you have the power to make them) that effect a lot of people and upend a system that has been in place for decades are not the right way to approach the problem. The FACDL has a committee of hot shot county court lawyers who should have been consulted, along with the judges. This would have created the ability to reach a decision in which all parties were a part of. If someone feels part of the solution, they will not cause a problem.
Our sources tell us there is another county court blitz next week. Judge Slom should be hired as the defensive coordinator of the Ravens.
We're in NYC, carbo loading and strapping on the shoes. One last time. Wish us luck.