Readers Write: N.Y needs to update its criminal justice laws.

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Inclusion of Discovery Reform in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Justice Agenda is a long-overdue criminal justice reform that will make criminal justice fairer and reduce the disturbingly high number of wrongful convictions in New York.

Unlike civil cases where lawyers are provided detailed information about the case which enables them to investigate, prepare their cases and provide meaningful advice to their clients, current criminal discovery rules permit prosecutors to withhold critical information necessary to provide an effective defense. 

Throughout the country, states have modified criminal discovery rules to share witness statements and other evidence that makes the system fairer to those charged with criminal offenses, but New York’s discovery rules continue to blindfold the defense and provide a tactical advantage to prosecutors that increases the risk of unjust convictions. It is time for New York to modernize its criminal discovery laws to even the playing field.  

Seymour James

Partner, Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP 

Former attorney in chief, The Legal Aid Society of New York

Former president of the New York State Bar Association

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