Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup

Prosecutorial perceptions of discovery reform on a local level

To access a print version, select "Download" to the right and then choose "Formatted PDF." The page numbers are not official until the Journal assigns the article to a volume and issue number. Do not use the page numbers for official citation purposes.

Published onJun 10, 2024
Prosecutorial perceptions of discovery reform on a local level


In recent years, several states in the United States have considered and implemented discovery reforms to regulate how evidence is included and shared as criminal cases play out in the court system. Currently, little research explores how prosecutors have made sense of these reforms and how discovery changes have impacted their day-to-day routines. Consequently, this case study considers how prosecutors at a large prosecutorial agency in the United States made sense of discovery reforms implemented in its state two years before data collection. Findings are based on 35 semi-structured qualitative interviews and highlight how prosecutors experienced the implementation of the reforms, their perceived organizational impacts, and their effects on their relationships with the defense. The findings indicate that prosecutorial perceptions were mixed and that experiences varied, seeing some benefits and drawbacks in the discovery changes and noting some changes in how they interacted with the defense. This research yields important implications for policymakers and future research.

Keywords: Discovery Reforms, Prosecutorial Perceptions, Qualitative Research

The Constitution guarantees numerous rights for a fair and just process: trial by jury, speedy trial, defense counsel, and protection from double jeopardy and self-incrimination. Even with these rights in place, the prosecution is almost always at an advantage relative to the defense in the adversarial process (Corn & Gershowitz, 2009). Acknowledging this fact and the necessity of defense counsel to have access to information to mount a competent defense, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS)ruled in Brady v. Maryland (1963) that the prosecution must, at minimum, divulge potentially exonerating evidence to the defense—a process known as discovery. In the interest of fairness, defendants must be made aware of opportunities to cast doubt on the government’s case.

Yet SCOTUS has not provided exact guidelines concerning what evidence should be included, when it should occur, or how long processes should take. This uncertainty has led to substantial variation in discovery processes at the local level (McConkie, 2017). In some jurisdictions, defense counsel is entitled to very little evidence; for example, Virginia defense attorneys before 2019 were only required to receive a copy of charges and the defendant’s statements to police—even the police report was exempt from discovery (Gaub et al., 2021). Conversely, other jurisdictions—such as Texas—have quite liberal discovery rules regarding what must be included in the file, when it must be made available, and/or consequences for failure to disclose (Meyers, 2023; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2020). This rule variation has made discovery a prime target in recent years for reformers attempting to level the playing field between prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Amidst the backdrop of managing the discovery process—and any associated reforms—prosecutors also exercise an immense amount of discretion. They control charging decisions and the plea-bargaining process, among other concerns (Albonetti, 1987; Corn & Gershowitz, 2010; Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011). Because prosecutors represent the government, they are susceptible to cognitive biases, particularly confirmation bias, that reinforce their beliefs in the defendant’s guilt. These biases can powerfully influence prosecutorial decision-making (Burke, 2007; Luna & Redlich, 2021) and their actions as change agents during periods of reform (Lynch et al., 2021).

The research base needs to catch up with the numerous court-related reforms in recent years, particularly as they relate to the individual decision-making processes amongst organizational change. Additionally, there is little documentation regarding the empirical validity of many reform efforts, particularly those related to the timing of discovery disclosure. Using data from 35 semi-structured interviews in a state that had undergone recent reform to its discovery rules, we take stock of how discovery reform impacted the thoughts and experiences of prosecutors at a large district attorney’s office in the United States.

Criminal Discovery Defined

Criminal discovery requires the prosecution to provide defense counsel with any material, exculpatory (i.e., exonerating) evidence.1 This is necessary for the defense to formulate its strategy and ensure fairness in the legal system (Green, 2013; see also United States v. Pollack, 1976). The SCOTUS first outlined the framework for disclosure of exculpatory evidence in Brady v. Maryland (1963). Using the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, SCOTUS held that “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment” (Brady v. Maryland, 1963). This evidence should be disclosed by the time of trial—but not necessarily before (Baer, 2015; Brown, 2018; Clafton, 2020; Kreag, 2018). Zottoli and colleagues (2019) found that most state statutes do not require discovery during plea negotiations. This is problematic in a system that resolves between 94 and 97% of cases through plea agreements, wherein defendants must make calculated decisions without understanding the weight of the government’s case against them (Alkon, 2014; Zottoli et al., 2019). Further, aside from not requiring Giglio material be disclosed before plea agreements (United States v. Ruiz, 2002), SCOTUS has not weighed in on how Brady applies before and during plea negotiations—a significant shortcoming given the substantial proportion of cases that are resolved via plea agreement (Alkon, 2014; Clafton, 2020; Luna & Redlich, 2021).

In some cases, significant evidence-gathering occurs long before charges are filed (at which point, discovery rules apply). According to Brown (2018), pretrial evidence-gathering is composed of investigation (uncovering “facts previously unknown” [p. 156] as well as evidence to support them) and fact-finding (both parties resolve disputes about those facts by analyzing and interpreting collected evidence). The former occurs long before a defendant gets to trial, and the latter can occur before trial (through plea bargaining) or during the trial. Discovery is critical in pretrial evidence-gathering because prosecutors have significantly more legal investigative capacity than defendants (Brown, 2018; Green, 2013; Corn & Gershowitz, 2010). Notably, prosecutors have immense discretion over determining what evidence is eligible for discovery because courts do not oversee this process; instead, they respond to concerns after the fact (Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011; Luna & Redlich, 2021). Thus, prosecutors guess the defense's strategy to determine if the evidence is material (Clafton, 2020; Kreag, 2018; Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011).

What Evidence is Material?

When considering evidence that must be disclosed through discovery, it often comes down to a question of materiality, the definition of which has evolved. Initially, evidence was material if, had that specific piece (or pieces) of evidence been disclosed, the trial outcome would have been different (Clafton, 2020; Kreag, 2018). If the evidence is not material, courts will find no harm to a criminal defendant when it is not disclosed. Importantly, this determination was essentially made in a vacuum: Each piece of evidence was assessed independently, irrespective of other evidence or its influence on other evidence.

In United States v. Bagley (1985), the Supreme Court argued for a more holistic, narrative approach to determining the materiality of evidence. It “implicitly recognized that a defendant’s explanation at trial, to be complete, needed more details of the story and that the loss of such details could be the difference between guilt and acquittal” (Clafton, 2020, p. 322). But at the same time, SCOTUS instituted a test for materiality that required a “reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different” (United States v. Bagley, 1985).

Later, SCOTUS held in Kyles v. Whitley (1995) that the “reasonable probability” of a different result decided in Bagley did not require a different verdict altogether. Instead, a Brady violation has occurred when the totality of suppressed evidence “could reasonably be taken to put the whole case in such a different light as to undermine confidence in the verdict” (Kyles v. Whitley, 1995). Additional cases—such as Banks v. Dretke (2004), Smith v. Cain (2012), and Turner v. United States (2017)—have reiterated that materiality questions must be answered by looking at the totality of the evidence (Clafton, 2020; Kreag, 2018).

Lower courts have variously interpreted this substantial body of case law regarding when to apply the question of materiality. While some lower courts interpret materiality to be a question for post-conviction relief—in other words, questions of materiality are only applied after conviction with the assumption that all favorable evidence was already provided before trial—most courts interpret materiality to be a test applied to all pieces of evidence before disclosure through discovery, such that prosecutors need only provide defense counsel with material exculpatory evidence (Green, 2013). The former is a much broader interpretation of what should be provided through discovery. In contrast, the latter requires a prosecutor to predict, before trial, how an appellate court might rule after the trial about the importance of various pieces. Since most are unable to do so effectively (Corn & Gershowitz, 2010; Gershowtiz & Killinger, 2011; Green, 2013), the working assumption is that a “prudent prosecutor” will resolve this uncertainty through more liberal use of disclosure (Green, 2013).

Efforts to Reform

The extent to which Brady violations occur is still an open empirical question (Baer, 2015), though one judge referred to it as an “epidemic” (United States v. Olsen, 2013). Violations of Brady harm not only the defendants’ ability to investigate their case and mount a defense (Clafton, 2020) but also the jury’s ability to carry out their civic duty and render a just verdict (Kreag, 2018). Yet most prosecutorial misconduct is unintentional (Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011); though the extent to which this extends to discovery malpractice is unknown, Gershowitz and Corn (2010) contend that most Brady violations are also not malicious.

These facts have spurred the discovery reform movement to pursue changes along several dimensions. For example, the Pew Charitable Trust (2007) advocated that all states institute open-file policies, rules requiring automatic and mandatory disclosure of certain types of evidence, early disclosure rules, certification by both parties that discovery has been fulfilled, and remedies for non-disclosure. This has yet to come to fruition but lays a framework for ambitious, comprehensive discovery reform.

Reforms such as “open-file” laws—which require prosecutors to turn over their files in their entirety (or nearly so)—have addressed prosecutors’ scope of obligation (Baer, 2015; Green, 2013). One of the most notorious examples is Texas, which adopted open-file discovery after Michael Morton was exonerated 25 years after his conviction. The prosecutor at the time had withheld relevant police reports and faced substantial sanctions for his actions, including jail time and disbarment (Luna & Redlich, 2021; Turner & Redlich, 2016). Texas’s open-file discovery law, passed in 2015, has been “frequently heralded as a model of progressive discovery practices” (Meyers, 2023, p. 3). Ohio and North Carolina also have variations of open-file discovery rules (NACDL, 2020). Open-file discovery allows defendants to prepare their cases better and can lead to better-informed plea decisions (Luna & Redlich, 2021; Turner & Redlich, 2016; Zottoli et al., 2019).

Short of open-file discovery, some states have adopted expanded discovery rules; for example, Virginia amended discovery rules in 2019 to include “inspection and review of police reports and statements of co-defendants and alleged co-conspirators that are sought to be introduced at trial” (NACDL, 2020). These also require prosecutors and defense attorneys to exchange witness lists before trial. In many cases, reforms expanding the types of evidence that are included in discovery through open-file (or similar) rules can become unfunded mandates, placing significant time burdens on already overworked prosecutors (and, in some cases, defense attorneys as well; Gaub et al., 2021).

Some reformers have addressed the internal “organizational dynamics within prosecutors’ offices” (Baer, 2015, p. 6) by implementing checklists and changes to office structure and formal policy. Others suggest reforms focused on ethical training. Corn and Gershowitz (2010) offer a solution to reduce intentional and unintentional Brady violations by proposing that:

State rules committees adopt a rule of imputed ethical responsibility for supervisory prosecutors [… that] would impose vicarious liability for the ethical violations of subordinates when evidence establishes that a supervisor should have known such a violation was likely to occur. [… The purpose is to incentivize supervisory prosecutors to embrace their responsibility to develop a culture of ethical compliance within their organizations. (p. 397)

Finally, some activists have questioned the timing of disclosure (Green, 2013). Brady requires that discovery be turned over to defense attorneys before trial, but in many jurisdictions, defense counsel does not receive significant evidence until days or even hours before the trial begins (Baer, 2015; Gaub et al., 2021; Green, 2013). Some defense attorneys attribute this to prosecutorial strategy (i.e., prosecutors observe the letter of the law but not the spirit in which it was intended; see Baer, 2015; Gaub et al., 2021); scholars have also suggested the time constraints from excessive caseloads contribute to the likelihood that prosecutors do not disclose all relevant evidence during discovery, either intentionally or unintentionally (Corn & Gershowitz, 2010; Gaub et al., 2021; Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011).

Increasing amounts of digital evidence, especially with the mass adoption of body-worn cameras by police, have also made speedy discovery more challenging (Gaub et al., 2021; Turner, 2019). Reforms such as New York’s Criminal Procedure Law Article 245, which went into effect in 2020, were a pendulum swing in the opposite direction by substantially reducing the time prosecutors had to fulfill discovery requirements or face case dismissal due to speedy trial violations. As a result of the law, case dismissals rose by 14% between 2019 and 2021 across the state and by 36% in New York City specifically, while guilty pleas dropped by similar percentages (Meyers, 2023). The law also experienced substantial resistance from judges, who exerted their organizational influence to undercut the legislation where possible (Petrigh, 2023). These findings proved Stark (2016) oddly prescient when he argued that proposed reforms in New York would not bring about expected ends. Importantly, theoretical and empirical assessments of these reform efforts have largely ignored the long-term effects of discovery timing on the attorneys themselves—both prosecutors and defense attorneys alike (Baer, 2015; Gaub et al., 2021).

In recent years, discovery has been only one of several targets for reform of the criminal justice system. Still, the elected prosecutor is often the official in the best position to implement wide-reaching change. Krinsky et al. (2023) note that a reform-minded prosecutor now represents nearly 20% of U.S. residents. Yet, these prosecutors still face substantial external resistance to their proposed reforms and internal resistance to change from career prosecutors within the organization (Krinsky et al., 2023; Lynch et al., 2021). This internal resistance is common among reforms implemented in a top-down fashion—the same is seen when such reforms are introduced in police and corrections organizations (see, e.g., Bayley, 2014; Rengifo et al., 2021). Regarding prosecutorial reforms specifically, resistance from line-level prosecutors can often be attributed to case-level needs and decision-making, office- or profession-level norms and culture, and unclear policies (Richardson & Kutateladze, 2021).

Prosecutorial Discretion and Workload

The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973) recommended that public defenders should handle no more than 150 felonies or 400 misdemeanors in any given year. The American Bar Association also adopted these recommendations, yet no comparable standard has been offered for prosecutors. In most large counties, both public defenders and prosecutors far exceed these recommended caseloads (Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011). Overburdened prosecutors can face time-related constraints on their discretion. For example, prosecutors may be unable to devote adequate time to investigating defendants’ backgrounds or the relative severity of their participation in a crime, which can have deleterious effects on plea negotiations and success at trial (Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011; Kreag, 2018; Luna & Redlich, 2021).

Prosecutors wield extensive discretion throughout the criminal justice process—arguably, they possess the most power of any criminal justice actor (Albonetti, 1987; Corn & Gershowitz, 2010). They have discretion over whether and which charges are filed,2 whether a plea bargain is offered, the terms contained in the plea bargain, and immunity or other deals offered to accomplices or witnesses (Albonetti, 1987; Corn & Gershowitz, 2010; Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011). They have police and investigators to assist with obtaining evidence and tracking down witnesses, and they alone determine whether evidence is considered material and must be disclosed through discovery (Baer, 2015; Brown, 2018; Corn & Gershowtiz, 2010). The problem is, however, that prosecutors do not make “perfectly rotational decisions.” Their rationality may be bounded factors that go beyond the particulars of a case (Albonetti, 1987). Moreover, prosecutors can also be susceptible to cognitive biases such as confirmation bias, which can devalue evidence that does not conform to the prosecutor’s belief in the defendant’s guilt (Burke, 2007), thus influencing prosecutors’ discretionary assessments related to discovery (Luna & Redlich, 2021). In other words, the subjectivity of a prosecutor can affect how a case plays out and what evidence is deemed appropriate to share with the defense.

Given the lack of concrete legal guidance surrounding what evidence is potentially exculpatory, this decision is mainly left to prosecutors who, if experiencing confirmation bias, may not believe it rises to the level of importance that it would be rendered material to the defense’s case. It is then left to the defense counsel to prove the materiality of the evidence upon appeal, which is far more challenging to do under current legal interpretations. Considering the prosecutorial discretion and associated bias in implementing discovery, determining sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct presents a substantial challenge. Unintentional misconduct lacks the necessary mens rea for criminal sanctions, and intentional misconduct would require the offending prosecutor’s colleagues to file charges—an improbable scenario (Corn & Gershowitz, 2009; Lynch, 1986; Williams, 2008). Defendants cannot pursue civil remedies, either, due to prosecutors’ absolute immunity3 for actions such as inducing perjury or intentional discovery violations (i.e., “actions taken as advocates for the state” [Corn & Gershowitz, 2009, p. 406]; Imbler v. Pachtman, 1976) and qualified immunity for actions such as illegal wiretapping (i.e., “improper investigative procedures” [Corn & Gershowitz, 2009, p. 406]; Williams, 1999). As such, the impacts of poor decision-making regarding discovery can be far-reaching, with few remedies after trial.

Additionally, prosecutors are generally considered extensively overworked, with high caseloads similar to public defenders. The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973) recommended that public defenders should handle no more than 150 felonies or 400 misdemeanors in any given year. The American Bar Association also adopted these recommendations, yet no comparable standard has been offered for prosecutors. In most large counties, both public defenders and prosecutors far exceed these recommended caseloads (Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011). Overburdened prosecutors often face time-related constraints on their discretion. For example, prosecutors may be unable to devote adequate time to investigating defendants’ backgrounds or the relative severity of their participation in a crime, which can have deleterious effects on plea negotiations and success at trial (Gershowitz & Killinger, 2011; Kreag, 2018; Luna & Redlich, 2021).

Current Study

Given what is known about discovery, what it requires from prosecutors and their existing workload, it makes sense that a systematic inquiry into how such reforms might impact the perceptions and experiences of prosecutors. As this knowledge base is scant, unearthing new understanding and insights on the impacts of such factors relating to prosecutors is essential and is the purpose of this study. In what follows, we present our research site and methods before we explain the themes concerning prosecutorial thoughts and experiences as they emerged from the data. Lastly, we conclude this work by discussing what these findings might imply for policymakers and scholars.

Research Site

Data collection commenced in the winter of 2022 and lasted through the summer at the “Coruscant County District Attorney’s Office” (pseudonym; hereafter referred to as “the CC”). The CC was an appropriate site for this study, as it had been subjected to discovery reforms implemented by its state legislature two years before data collection. This allowed for enough time to pass for new organizational routines, strategies, and practices to form while still being recent enough for organizational members to recall how the reforms affected the organization.

The CC is a sizeable prosecutorial agency in the United States governed by a predominantly liberal-leaning legislature and governor. At the time of data collection, the CC had a large, diverse population of over 1 million and served over 60 courts and 29 police agencies. Like most mid-to-large-size prosecutorial organizations in the United States, the CC employed about 100 employees and comprised several general and special divisions focused on felonies and misdemeanors across urban, suburban, and rural contexts. As for the county’s population, about 13% lived under the poverty line, and there was a relatively large working class. Racially, the county is majority white (79%), with a 14% Black population and 6% LatinX. The CC also serviced the state’s second-largest city, which we will refer to by the pseudonym “Coruscant City,” and had special divisions dedicated to processing some cases from the city.

Discovery Reform Context

In 2020, despite immense pushback from the state’s prosecutorial association, the state legislature passed a major law that significantly affected the discovery process. To protect the CC’s identity, we will refer to the new open-discovery policy by the pseudonym “Order 66,” which became a part of the criminal procedural law. It states that the discovery of evidence related to criminal cases must occur over an expedited timeline. In short, the prosecution has no more than 20 days after a defendant has been arraigned to hand over discoverable materials to the defense if the defendant is being held in pretrial detention. If the defendant is not in custody, the prosecution has an additional 15 days (35 days total) to meet discovery obligations. In some cases, 30 extra days are permitted if the materials are extensive or if, after making concerted efforts, the prosecution has been unable to retrieve the materials. For example, if prosecutors are waiting for evidence to be handed over from the police, they can ask for a 30-day extension. Therefore, depending on the defendant's status, under Order 66, prosecutors have a maximum of 65 days to get discoverable materials to the defense.

Moreover, Order 66 mandates “automatic discovery,” meaning that any evidence the prosecution comes across must automatically be sent to the defense. This law is a significant change from the previous “blindfold” discovery law that had persisted in the state (Order 40). Under the old discovery requirements, prosecutors had to meet discovery demands based on the defense providing a written demand for the materials. Order 40 also did not establish a standard timeframe for meeting discovery requests, which (according to respondents) was abused by prosecutors in certain jurisdictions. Therefore, Order 66 presents a notable change to how the discovery process is prescribed compared to Order 40.

Data Collection and Analysis

Upon receiving approval for data collection from the CC, data collection began in January 2022 and lasted through June 2022. After meeting with key stakeholders, we identified a sampling frame of 85 personnel impacted by Order 66. These people included practicing lawyers in addition to some administrative staff. We excluded recent hires (people hired within six months before data collection) from our sampling frame, as they might not have had insights into the organization’s history or practices under Order 40. Therefore, our sampling frame included people in leadership (the Head District Attorney or Head DA and/or Section Chiefs), the IT Unit, and ADAs.

We reached out to personnel via email and were able to conduct 35 voluntary, semi-structured interviews with participants. Of the 35 in the sample, 32 were practicing lawyers comprising DA Hamilton (pseudonym), 10 Section Chiefs, and 21 Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs). Twenty-three participants were male, and 12 identified as female. A vast majority of participants identified as white (32), two identified as African American or black, and lastly, one as Middle Eastern.

In terms of the 21 ADAs, five belonged to the Felonies Section, four to Special Victims, three to each Homicide and Special Investigations, two to each Vehicular Crimes and Corucaunt County Misdemeanors, and one each to Narcotics and Community Prosecution. Eight of the ADAs were female, and the rest were male. Experience levels ranged from two to 35 years, with the mean experience being 12.2. years.

The participants who were Section Chiefs came from the Coruscant City Misdemeanors Section (1), Homicide (1), Coruscant County Misdemeanors (1), Narcotics (1), Felonies (2), Special Investigations (2), and Community Prosecution (2). Their experience ranged from 7 to 36 years at the CC, with a mean of 12.5 years. Four identified as female, with the rest being male.

Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic and other logistical reasons, all interviews were conducted remotely via Zoom. Furthermore, a stipulation of the study (imposed by the District Attorney) was that we did not record Zoom interviews; therefore, one researcher typically led the interview while one or two others on the research team took detailed notes. One person was tasked primarily with capturing quotes, while the other took more general notes. On average, interviews lasted 58 minutes, with the longest being 94 minutes and the shortest 34 minutes.

Interviews were structured to seek after five themes. These spanned the motivations behind the implementation of Order 66, its impacts on day-to-day operations, how participants understood the drawbacks and benefits of the reform, the extent to which cases were impacted differently, and how Order 66 impacted relations between the defense and prosecution. For example, one of the questions posed to respondents read: “Would you say [Order 66] benefits the defense or prosecution more? [Probe] Can you provide an example?”

Data analysis was conducted using the cloud-based feature of Atlas.ti. This allowed researchers to code data simultaneously and remotely. However, most of the coding was conducted by the primary investigator. While we did have a brief start list related to discovery, most coding occurred inductively as themes emerged from the data we did not anticipate (which is par for the course, considering that the study was exploratory). We predominantly focused on two macro-level deductive themes (perceptions and experiences), out of which sub-themes inductively emerged. Below, we organize our findings based on themes that emerged organically from interview responses that span perceptions of implementation, impacts on the organization and prosecutorial processes, and working with the defense. We provide pseudonyms and organizational group affiliation for each respondent when we present direct quotes from our notes.


Perceptions of Implementation

While opinions about various aspects of implementing discovery reform differed, many agreed that discovery reform was necessary. Before the reforms, prosecutors had significant discretion and could intentionally delay providing essential evidence to the defense. This could put the defense at a substantial disadvantage. Respondents felt that some prosecutors in other jurisdictions across the state might have used this to their advantage, which made the “whole process unfair.”

[Order 66] forces both law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney to be more forthcoming with material in our possession. This is a good thing.[ADA Norris]

With the old laws, the defense would receive the majority of discovery, especially grand jury testimony evidence, they would get right before trial. I think this was fundamentally unfair.” [Section Chief Sainz]

Therefore, respondents did not fundamentally oppose the principle behind Order 66; however, they had varying opinions on its implementation, practicality, and consequences.

Some interviewees thought that because Order 40 had put defendants at such a disadvantage in the discovery process, the public and special interest groups (e.g., the criminal defense bar) exerted significant political pressure on the state legislature to act. For example, DA Hamilton explained that another reason for the reform was that “once a certain political party came into power and had super majorities in [the state], the criminal defense bar got to them.” He felt that the defense bar and other special interest groups could use the inroads they had made with the legislature to inspire Order 66 without any input from prosecutors or law enforcement. In his mind, “what they passed was awful legislation.” The prosecution's perspective was that given the little input they had in drafting Order 66, it ultimately became an “unfunded mandate” that was “good in spirit, but not practice.” The reform spelled out new procedures for prosecutors but did not afford them any resources to make these changes.

Section Chief LeClerc explained that “the thought was in the right place, but they threw the baby out with the bath water.” He said there were “workable statutes for more than 40 years, but they needed revamping to bring them into the 21st century.” Reworking some existing laws might have been more productive than creating a new statute. However, the predominant issue, according to him, was that rather than the legislature creating a practicable solution for everyone (by including all parties in policy creation), the legislature took a “one-sided approach [and] created a system that made it completely onerous to the prosecution and completely favorable to the defendant.” This frustration felt by the respondents is consistent with existing research that suggests that people tend to buy into new policies and practices when they have been included in policy or implementation decisions (Choi et al., 2023; Simmons, 2008).

Respondents lamented the “ridiculous timeframes” and paperwork tied to Order 66. They felt that the new law expected them to know everything concerning discovery as soon as a case started. However, they did not always know, nor could foresee, the evidence that law enforcement might have. Similarly, evidence was not always handed over to them all at once. Sometimes, additional evidence trickled in from law enforcement because some evidence was discovered after charges were filed. Moreover, certain law enforcement agencies worked with a different sense of urgency than others, which could create problems for the CC.

Furthermore, Order 66 required ADAs to fill out certificates of compliance, which outlined the evidence included in discovery. It served as a “checklist” that showed all discoverable evidence that they provided to the defense. This certificate would also serve as proof that they followed all aspects of Order 66. Regarding certain cases where a lot of evidence existed, completing these forms would become tedious and a significant time strain. If the discovery and certificates of compliance were not delivered in time or if the forms were incomplete, the prosecution could face some sanctions (however, the law did not clarify what those sanctions would be). It would allow the defense to have some evidence suppressed. At the same time, Order 66 does allow prosecutors to file a supplemental certificate of compliance if new evidence emerges after they have filed the original certificate. The courts would accept this if this is done in “good faith.”

Perceived Organizational Impacts

According to Order 66, once a defendant has been charged, the prosecution must dispatch all discovery information to the defense within 20-65 days, depending on the circumstances described above. This means that prosecutors must liaise with law enforcement agencies to determine the nature of the evidence. They must then secure copies of the evidence and ensure it is provided to the defense within the stipulated time frame. While doing this, ADAs must also complete certificates of compliance, which act as accountability mechanisms for showing that ADAs followed the law’s requirements. Consequently, 23 respondents claimed the reform caused far more work for prosecutors than defense attorneys; however, the perceived amount of work differed across divisions.

For example, ADA Vowles explained that she spent 7 hours doing paperwork in the office on the Sunday before her interview with researchers, saying: “It slows down what I actually do as a lawyer incredibly.” While in her mind, Order 66 rightfully levels the playing field, she explained: “What has turned negative from my perspective is that defense attorneys are using it as a sword to delay what they are doing on their cases. For example, I sent a plea offer a month ago on an assault case. There were a lot of medical records, and I pulled out a discharge report from the hospital and sent it to the defense attorney. But he wanted all the medical records, which I thought was ridiculousI like the idea of fairness and balance, but I do not like the idea that it makes my life more difficult and the judicial system less efficient.

Since the “discovery clock” begins once a person has been arraigned, Order 66 unevenly affects different divisions and individuals within the CC. For example, some divisions handled more “uncharged” cases than “charged” ones. Sometimes, depending on the specific focus of an ADA, different individuals in the same division would have different ratios of charged vs. uncharged cases. Respondents explained that charged cases were those cases where a defendant had been charged with a crime by the police. Uncharged cases were those that the police handed over to the CC for ADAs to consider the evidence, conduct investigations, and decide whether to proceed with charging a suspect.

Those ADAs who worked in divisions that handled predominantly low-level felonies or misdemeanors could have a large (80-100%) percentage of charged cases as part of their caseload. However, those ratios were different for those ADAs in divisions working with special victims, high-level felonies, homicides, or other crimes. For example, an ADA who predominantly handled felony sex crimes claimed that at any given time, about 60% of their cases might be uncharged. In contrast, someone who focused on gun crimes explained that 90% of their caseload was charged. When a case was uncharged, ADAs generally felt less pressure to move the case along under the new discovery laws, as the discovery clock had not started. However, with a charged case, the clock started once a person had been arraigned. At that point, it was up to the prosecution to get all the necessary evidence to share with the defense within the law’s strict timeline. Depending on the nature of an ADA’s cases, they could feel the time pressure acutely or significantly less so.

Similarly, 25 respondents perceived Order 66 to have created a significant influx of information, resulting in new “clerical” work. Some interviewees felt that Order 66 had “changed the game” since prosecutors were no longer “prosecuting cases” but had become “glorified administrative assistants” who processed information to ensure that all available evidence made it from one party to another.

The perceived challenge of turning over what could amount to an overwhelming amount of discovery material under significant time pressures was exacerbated by the implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs) that occurred virtually simultaneously with Order 66. This was especially the case when the Coruscant City Police Department (CPD) and the Coruscant County Sheriff’s Office (two substantial organizations) implemented BWCs, increasing the volume of available BWC footage. Moreover, some incidents involved several police officers at once, all of whom produced BWC footage that required viewing.

Depending on the police agency, it sometimes took much time for prosecutors to locate and retrieve all BWC footage relevant to a case. The ease of this process also depended on the type of BWC system a police agency was using. In some instances, ADAs had to track down hard copies (such as USB drives or DVDs). At the same time, brands like WatchDog or Axon offered third-party cloud storage, allowing individuals to share links to videos very efficiently. Since most of the footage used in cases comprised video captured by Axon, the IT Unit at the CC took steps to streamline and train ADAs on how to access and share footage on expeditiously:

“We would work with [BWC manufacturers] on how we would do this, and we would call Axon to understand the system. We had a lot of training sessions with our own ADAs, half a dozen training sessions. Creating PowerPoints and showing them how to share and how to access things.” [IT Worker Piastri]

The IT Unit also implemented a system that aided in “e-discovery.” This allowed prosecutors to make digital copies of evidence to share with the defense. This could be achieved through, but for those cases that came from other agencies that did not use that application, the IT Unit implemented a program called (by the pseudonym) Evidence Case Management System (ECMS), which worked similarly to in that it created a centralized virtual space for evidence to be stored and shared. Evidence would be associated with case numbers, and links to those numbers could be shared with people within or outside the CC, including defense attorneys. While this did help make the discovery process more efficient, the CC had to (re)allocate its resources to implement this solution, as Order 66 did not provide any aid to prosecutorial organizations. Moreover, these processes still relied on how quickly law enforcement turned evidence over and the ability of defense attorneys to navigate new technology (which is discussed further below).

“I think that it's increased the amount of work that I do on each file by like 50%. So, it seems like I spend most of my time providing discovery material to defense attorneys or a pretty good portion of my time, although that has improved over the past several months, but maybe the past year since we've implemented electronic discovery.” [ADA Verstappen]

In addition to implementing e-discovery technology and processes, the CC leadership had to acquire and/or (re)allocate resources to hire several new ADAs and approximately 20 new administrative staff known as “Discovery Expeditors (DEs).” The DEs' primary role was to help reduce the administrative burden on ADAs as they worked on cases.

“All of them [referring to other prosecutorial offices] now had discovery folks and we created a whole unit here in the office which we refer to as Discovery Expeditors. They're the ones that the law enforcement departments are feeding the information to, and they are uploading it into our internal case management system.” [Section Chief Sainz]

Some of the DEs’ duties included working with law enforcement and compiling all discovery evidence within the timeframe allotted by the discovery clock. Once all the discovery had been compiled, they would share this with the ADA who could then hand it over to the defense.

ADA Russel explained: “[DEs] act as liaisons between us and the various police agencies.” She said that when Order 66 was implemented, DA Hamilton sent a standard letter to all the police departments in their jurisdiction detailing all the evidence they might be required to provide and to send it all at once. The DEs reach out to the police agencies for evidence, and they gather all the discovery and put it in ECMS. Then, they provide a link to the defense attorneys and give them a password to access it all. “They do an amazing job. There are very few times I have had to ask for something because it was not there.”

While DEs collaborated with law enforcement to ensure that all necessary discovery was compiled before the clock expired, it was still up to the ADAs to review all evidence to ensure it was complete. It was important that ADAs review all evidence to ensure they understood the facts pertinent to their case and redact anything that would compromise the safety of the victim or witnesses. This was a tedious task that had to be completed in what they perceived to be a short timeframe.

“We spent like three years trying to come up with a system to turn over discovery. We have considered technology. We have hired staff to upload discovery into the system. Discovery expeditors put everything into our database, but the ADAs have to review it before they can share it…What if there is stuff there that we can’t disclose? But the attorneys still have to review the content.” [Section Chief Albon]

Since defendants are also allowed to review all discovery to the same extent that their attorney may, some ADAs initially feared that the new discovery laws would cause certain information—such as the names, contact information, medical records, addresses, or work addresses of victims, witnesses, informants, or bystanders—to be made available to defendants. Their concern was that due to the time pressure, they might miss something that needed redaction, which could lead them to unwittingly expose “innocent people to potential danger” (e.g., retaliation from a defendant). To get permission to have certain information redacted that was not covered by Order 66, ADAs had to fill out “protective orders,” which was an additional strain on their time. ADA Tsunoda, who handles particularly sensitive cases involving egregious crimes committed against children, explained: “In my current position, we have to fill out more protective orders to protect things being disclosed to the defense early on. It is not a pleasant thought to think of these materials going to the defendant.”

As previously noted, not all divisions and ADAs were similarly impacted by Order 66, and therefore, not all ADAs had the same interactions with Discovery Expeditors.

“I don’t know what their role is and what our role is. It seems like their job is to request materials from the police agencies and that’s it. Sometimes I do ask them for a few things when I start going through the file and we are missing something. I will send an email to an expeditor and request something. They will follow up on it or attach it to the file in our ECMS” [ ADA Verstappen]

Discovery Expeditors tended to be relied on by ADAs with larger “charged” caseloads, as those with uncharged cases were not subject to the same time pressures imposed by the discovery laws. Therefore, they had the time to work with law enforcement and ensure they had all the necessary evidence. Consequently, it seemed that those ADAs responsible for misdemeanor crimes or lower-level felonies relied most heavily on DEs.

While respondents were straightforward about the burden placed on them and the organization by the discovery reforms, they were not blind to some of the benefits of Order 66. For example, 19 respondents explained that since the new law forced them to do a significant amount of evidentiary review before providing materials to the defense, they were generally better prepared for cases earlier in the process than before. This tended to serve as a protective mechanism when defendants attempted to accuse prosecutors of deception or other underhanded behavior. For example, Division Chief Wolff said that “the main benefit is to the defense counsel and the defendant,” but that there is an “unmentioned minor benefit” to the prosecution: “We get more in-depth into a case earlier on if we are going to try it. But it is double or triple the work to what they used to have to put in.

Other ADAs mentioned that they were better prepared for plea bargaining. Because they had reviewed all the evidence early in the court process, they would have a general idea of what the defense might argue if the case were to go to court or how they would approach plea deal negotiations. Six ADAs mentioned feeling that Order 66 gave them an advantage over the defense when they were engaged in plea negotiations.

“When a person is convicted, assuming that everything is turned over, that person should have very little excuse as to why they were convicted or why they took the plea. [Pretending to speak with a judge] ‘Judge, they literally had everything ahead of time, before they decided to take the plea.’” [ADA Perez].

Moreover, the ADAs we interviewed thought both parties had enough information early enough in the court process to make informed decisions together. Given that the prosecution had compiled all the information that both parties would need to make decisions, the new norm allowed them to “get together” and decide on a proper course of action earlier in the legal process, which is similar to what Gershowitz & Killinger (2011) found concerning having all evidence available during plea bargaining. Once BWCs had been implemented by the CPD, the footage made these decisions even more straightforward. However, this depended on whether defense attorneys looked at the discovery in a timely fashion before plea negotiations began.

Working with the Defense

Twenty-five respondents agreed that Order 66 had shifted the balance of power between prosecutors and defense attorneys to an extent where the defense benefited significantly compared to the past. Some participants felt that while the state discovery reforms were timely, Order 66 (even after some subsequent modifications) was a gross “overcorrection” that set unrealistic standards for the prosecution.

“The prosecutors have to gather the information, file the certificates and turn everything over, that's time they can't spend investigating and proving up other cases. It's taking time away from being a prosecutor and sort of becoming almost a first-year associate attorney in a law firm doing discovery compliance which is fine, but it does take away from the time that you would be spending researching case law in a case, reviewing evidence, meeting with witnesses. You don't have as much time to do that as you used to.” [ADA Zhou]

As the balance of power seemed to have shifted, so did the relationships between some defense attorneys and prosecutors. Respondents were unambiguous that depending on the individual defense attorney, they would have variable experiences. For example, the laws often affected the relationship in a way that could lead to positive and productive outcomes. Consistent with what Gershowitz & Killinger (2011) found, when both parties had access to all the evidence promptly, the defense and prosecution could have franker discussions about how they might anticipate the case would pan out in court. Such discussions would make plea negotiations more efficient as there was less “back-and-forth” or sources of disagreement between the parties.

“It's really changed the nature of my relationship with defense attorneys. I know I need to get this material to them and then I pick up the phone. I give them a call, or I send a plea letter to them and pick up the phone and say ‘you've got the thing, have you looked at it yet? Here's what I'm thinking. What are you thinking?’ You know that's how it goes.… It’s a burden to them but the good ones will realize that they should and must look at everything we provide to them. The ones that are not so skilled or ethical are not going to look at it and just ignore it.” [ADA Verstappen]

Some ADAs explained that in a handful of cases, after establishing a productive course of action with the defense counsel, defendants themselves would be reluctant to agree to the terms and would reject or prolong negotiations despite legal advice. However, this was related to the defendant's personality rather than Order 66, which is similar to what Tor et al. (2010) suggest.

However, as ADA Verstappen mentioned above (along with three other respondents), sometimes defense attorneys are overwhelmed by the amount of discovery they receive and need help reviewing all of the evidence provided by the prosecution. They explained that some defense attorneys who had high caseloads had trouble adapting to Order 66, while some were “lazy” and/or less punctilious and did not view all discovery information that was available.

“I also think we turn over all this discovery and what we find is the defense will tell us they do not want anymore and they are not reviewing it. This is very frustrating, too… We can see when we turn things over that they [defense attorneys] have not accessed it…They need to be accountable, too.” [Section Chief LeClerc]

Mechanisms tied to e-discovery, programs such as ECMS,, and Watchdog would leave “audit trails.” These showed exactly who had received access to information and when and how they viewed it. More importantly, it would show when defense attorneys did not view the evidence. When defense attorneys did not view evidence, it vexed respondents across the organization. The reason is that they engaged in a tremendous amount of work in a short time frame in vain. This ultimately strained their relationships with some defense attorneys.

I think that it's just a weapon that they use. They use it in saying people did not follow all of the rules or did not provide them with all the certifications. They focus on the law in a manner that is not consistent with the spirit of the law. They harp on things related to the discovery and therefore, ask that the case should be dismissed. They're all doing this all day long. They aren’t actually using the discovery laws. They are using the speedy trial laws and not the actual discovery.” [ADA Verstappen]

Adding to the strain, some defense attorneys sometimes missed crucial information and would appeal to judges that they never received it or that it was the prosecution's responsibility to point out any evidence pertinent to their case. Several ADAs lamented a recent case involving BWC footage that was dismissed because the defense successfully argued that if the prosecution found evidence that would be beneficial to the defense during the discovery process (no matter how seemingly inconsequential), it was the responsibility of the prosecutor to make the defense explicitly aware of it. Many respondents felt that this was not their responsibility and that this expectation of doing defense attorneys’ work for them violated the spirit of the law.

Division Chief Wolff explained the case without going into too much detail, which involved a shooting that also rendered a considerable amount of body-worn camera footage. The judge granted a mistrial because the prosecutors had not notified the defense about “one very small detail in the footage.” He calls it “finding a needle in a haystack.” “So now we are operating under the paradigm you have had better watched the entire haystack, and if there is a needle that is detrimental to your case, you cannot rely on the defense to do their own job. We have to do their job for them…We have to be the ones to point [out] and highlight [to the] ‘poor defense counsel,’ which we have never had to do before. We don’t want to be caught having not looked through the entire haystack and not having found the one needle at the end of the haystack.” This, of course, he notes, is more specific to murder cases and “not to the guy who stole a pair of tennis shoes from Target.

Indeed, 17 respondents felt that some defense attorneys purposefully exploited Order 66 for their legal advantage. Whether public or private counsel, they might focus less on the evidentiary merits of a case and more on how closely ADAs adhered to the discovery reform’s procedural elements. Examples of technicalities included defense concerns over certificates of compliance and how they were filed. Other times, prosecutors might still be waiting for evidence from law enforcement (that had never actually been in their possession), and that might not make any substantial contributions to the case, but the defense would argue that prosecutors had not met the requirements of Order 66. Such actions by the defense could frustrate ADAs, and consequently, some found themselves anticipating such strategies. This sometimes caused them to worry that they had not followed every provision of the discovery procedure to perfection.


Overall, this case study found that those at the CC had mixed perceptions of discovery reforms in their state. For example, they felt that reforms needed to occur as the existing laws were significantly biased against the defense, and prosecutors from across the state sometimes took advantage, undermining the spirit of due process. However, the practical implications of the changes needed to be more carefully considered and were one-sided and unfunded. This frustrated respondents, as it forced them to do a significant amount of work in a short amount of time. Furthermore, Order 66 burdened them with clerical or administrative tasks that distracted them from focusing on the legal merits of cases. The CC had to hire more administrative staff to help carry this burden and implemented new technological solutions to regulate case flow in ways that adhered to the reforms.

At the same time, ADAs generally felt more prepared for cases because of the discovery requirements and timelines. This allowed them to work with defense attorneys to find ways to resolve cases quickly through plea bargains. When this was possible, it usually led to productive outcomes (depending on the amenability of defense attorneys). Much like prosecutors who took advantage of the old discovery laws, some defense attorneys behaved in a way that undermined the spirit of Order 66. Some defense attorneys only viewed some evidence, would expect prosecutors to point out necessary evidence, or would exploit technicalities to have evidence suppressed or cases dismissed—this strained relations between some defense attorneys and prosecutors.

These findings have important policy formation, practice, and future research implications. CC respondents explained that prosecutors were not involved in policy formation discussions. To them, this led to a well-intentioned policy but had several critical, practical shortfalls. When policymakers across other jurisdictions begin to (re)consider discovery reforms, they might benefit from including prosecutors and the defense bar in discussions before policy creation. Existing research is unambiguous about the perceptual impacts of stakeholders from all parties that could be affected by implementing reforms, innovations, or policy changes. Hearing the concerns of all parties involved, understanding the outcomes that each party desires, discussing how reform would impact existing structures and practices of all parties involved, and finding some form of common ground could abate negative perceptions and experiences as reforms are rolled out (Gaub et al. 2016; Choi et al., 2023; Kyle & White, 2017; Rosenbaum & McCarty, 2017; Telep & Lum, 2014). Including prosecutors in discussions before Order 66 was drafted and rolled out might have led to more fruitful and balanced perceptions of the defense and prosecution.

Moreover, and congruent with the point above, policymakers should consider the financial implications of discovery reforms. They should ask themselves how reforms would impact local jurisdictions. In the case of the CC, Order 66 caused DA Hamilton to (re)allocate funds to hire more ADAs and create a new administrative division to work solely with discovery (discovery expeditors). They also had to add to the IT Unit and implement new technologies to manage case flow. The CC was entirely responsible for funding these changes. State and federal lawmakers should consider funding prosecutors and public defenders to help overcome some of the logistical challenges that discovery reforms exert on organizations. After all, in 2015, the federal government provided some funding for police agencies to implement and pilot body-worn cameras (Koen & Mathna, 2019; Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2015). Moreover, in the early 1990s, the Department of Justice provided funding to police agencies through the Community Oriented Policing Services to hire more officers and to focus efforts on community-oriented policing (BJA, 1994; U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2005). A well-intentioned policy can be well-executed with some funding (at least in the eyes of the CC).

In terms of practice, prosecutorial agencies can learn from the CC and focus on proactively developing and implementing the digital and human resource infrastructure to accommodate discovery reforms. Once it becomes clear that discovery reforms are gaining traction within their state, prosecutorial offices might consider seeking funding ahead of time from local governments. This should allow them time to implement sufficient technological infrastructure and be prepared to add additional human resources to their organizations.

Prosecutorial agencies might rethink how their existing resources are allocated by contemplating which divisions within their agencies would be more susceptible to resource strains due to discovery reforms. For example, at the CC, those division after evidence had been collected. Getting a sense of which parts of an organization might be most impacted before the roll-out of discovery reforms and allocating resources accordingly, might reduce the magnitude of the overall impacts felt by individuals working in those divisions.

This study also yields important implications for the scholarly community. Future research can consider how defense attorneys, the public, the police, and prosecutors make sense of discovery reforms. Similarly, research can seek to understand how discovery reforms impact the relationship between various parties within the criminal justice system. Qualitative studies can describe and explore new variables in urban, suburban, and rural contexts, while quantitative ones can help us understand how some of these variables manifest across myriad jurisdictions. New research could determine to what extent these reforms achieve the outcomes intended by those who implement them in addition to any possible deleterious or unexpected outcomes. This could help drive the honing of already existing reforms and inspire reforms to come.


Like all research, the methodology of the current study suffers from some limitations that deserve discussion. First, the qualitative nature of this research does not allow for generalization. We are unable to make broad statements about how discovery reforms would have impacted other jurisdictions that were subject to Order 66, nor can we make sweeping statements about discovery reforms in general. However, we have explored and described some variables that could be studied on a larger scale across other contexts.

Moreover, semi-structured interviews yield subjective data that rely on the perceptions and memory of respondents. Consequently, our findings could be colored by memory lapses and other subjective factors. However, we did interview 35 respondents across the organization whose descriptions of the discovery reforms were consistent. Moreover, interviews took place only two years after the reforms were implemented, which allowed for enough time for the forms to impact the organization but was also a short enough period for respondents to recall the implementation and impacts of Order 66.

It must also be pointed out that these findings were based on prosecutorial perceptions only, which does paint a one-sided picture of how Order 66 impacted the CC. This is especially the case when our respondents described how Order 66 impacted their relationships with other courtroom actors such as the defense. At the same time, the purpose of this study was to seek out how prosecutors perceived and experienced these policy changes. This does, in turn, imply that these findings might not represent the “objective” truth of how Order 66 impacted the criminal justice system in Coruscant County.

Additionally, as a stipulation of participation, we were unable to record Zoom interviews. This inhibited our ability to record long, detailed quotes that might have more aptly epitomized our findings. Moreover, it is possible that notetakers could have missed certain details during interviews. However, to combat this, there were always at least two individuals present during each interview. Most of the time, there were three taking part in the Zoom interviews. This allowed us to capture notes that were comprehensive and contained some direct quotes. Furthermore, to ensure that notetakers collected all pertinent information, the interviewer would sum up what each respondent said after discussing a topic, to both allow the notetaker to catch up, but also to ensure that we accurately interpreted what the respondent was conveying.

Despite these methodological limitations, this research adds to a very small literature base regarding discovery laws and reforms. It also highlights important areas where future scholarship can focus in addition to considering some practical implications for policymakers and practitioners.


Albonetti, C. A. (1987). Prosecutorial discretion: The effects of uncertainty. Law & Society Review, 21(2), 291–314.

Alkon, C. (2014). The U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to fix plea bargaining: The impact of Lafler and Frye. Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 41(3).

Baer, M. H. (2015). Timing Brady. Columbia Law Review, 115(1). Brooklyn Law School: Legal Studies Paper No. 401.

Brown, D. K. (2018). Evidence disclosure and discovery in common law jurisdictions. Oxford Handbook of Criminal Process. Social Science Research Network.

Bureau of Justice Assistance. (1994). Understanding community policing: A framework for action. U.S Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs, 1–70.

Bureau of Justice Assistance. (2015, June 16). BJA FY 15 body-worn camera policy and implementation program | Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Burke, A. S. (2007). Prosecutorial passion, cognitive bias, and plea bargaining. Marquette Law Review, Symposium. Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-31.

Choi, S., Bitter, A. N., Sturges, H. A., & Snyder, J. A. (2023). Advancing the implementation of body-worn cameras: Using police officers’ buy-in to inform research and policy. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.

Clafton, R. E. (2020). A material change to Brady: Rethinking Brady v. Maryland, materiality, and criminal discovery. The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 110(2), 307.

Corn, G. S., & Gershowitz, A. M. (2010). Imputed liability for supervising prosecutors: Applying the military doctrine of command responsibility to reduce prosecutorial misconduct. Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, 14(2), 395.

Gaub, J. E., Choate, D. E., Todak, N., Katz, C. M., & White, M. D. (2016). Officer perceptions of body-worn cameras before and after deployment. Police Quarterly, 19(3), 275–302.

Gaub, J. E., Naoroz, C., & Malm, A. (2021). Police BWCs as “neutral observers”: Perceptions of public defenders. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 15(2), 1417–1428.

Gershowitz, A. M., & Killinger, L. R. (2011). The state (never) rests: How excessive prosecutor caseloads harm criminal defendants. Northwestern University Law Review, 105(1), 261–302.

Green, B. A. (2013). Federal criminal discovery reform: A legislative approach. Mercer Law Review, 64(3), 639.

Koen, M., & Mathna, B. (2019). Body-worn cameras and internal accountability at a police agency. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 3(2).

Kreag, J. (2018). The jury’s Brady right. Boston University Law Review, 98(345), 345–395.

Kyle, M. J., & White, D. R. (2017). The impact of law enforcement officer perceptions of organizational justice on their attitudes regarding body-worn cameras. Journal of Crime and Justice, 40(1), 68–83.

Luna, S., & Redlich, A. D. (2021). The decision to provide discovery: An examination of policies and guilty pleas. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 17(2), 305–320.

McConkie, D. S. (2017). The local rules revolution in criminal discovery. Cardozo Law Review, 39(59), 59–126.

Meyers, H. E. (2023). Destroyed by discovery: How New York state’s discovery law destabilizes the criminal justice system (pp. 1–43). Manhattan Institute.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. (2020, May 21). NACDL - discovery reform legislative victories. NACDL - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. (2022). NACDL - Federal discovery reform. NACDL - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Petrigh, A. (2023). Judicial resistance to New York’s 2020 criminal legal reforms. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 113(1), 108–174.

Rosenbaum, D. P., & McCarty, W. P. (2017). Organizational justice and officer “buy in” in American policing. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 40(1), 71–85.

Simmons, K. C. (2008). The politics of policing: Ensuring stakeholder collaboration in the federal reform of local law enforcement agencies. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 98(2).

Stark, V. (2016). New York discovery reform proposals: A critical assessment. Albany Law Review, 79(4).

Telep, C. W., & Lum, C. (2014). The receptivity of officers to empirical research and evidence-based policing: An examination of survey data from three agencies. Police Quarterly, 17(4), 359–385.

The Pew Charitable Trusts. (2007). Expanded discovery in criminal cases: A policy review. The Justice Project.

Tor, A., Gazal-Ayal, O., & Garcia, S. M. (2010). Fairness and the willingness to accept plea bargain offers. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 7(1), 97–116.

Turner, J. I. (2019). Managing digital discovery in criminal cases. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 109(2), 237–312.

Turner, J. I., & Redlich, A. D. (2016). Two models of pre-plea discovery in criminal cases: An empirical comparison. Washington and Lee Law Review, 73, 285–408.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2005, November 14). Community policing grants: COPS grants were a modest contributor to declines in crime in the 1990s.

Zottoli, T. M., Daftary‐Kapur, T., Edkins, V. A., Redlich, A. D., King, C. M., Dervan, L. E., & Tahan, E. (2019). State of the States: A survey of statutory law, regulations and court rules pertaining to guilty pleas across the United States. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 37(4), 388–434.

Cases Referenced

Banks v. Dretke, 540 U.S. 668 (2004).

Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976).

Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995).

Smith v. Cain, 565 U.S. 73 (2012).

Turner v. United States, 15-1503 (2017).

United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667 (1985).

United States v. Olsen, 10-36063 (2013).

United States v. Pollack, 414 F. Supp. 203 (1976).

United States v. Ruiz, 536 U.S. 622 (2002).


Gabrielle A. Roubanian is a second-year graduate student at Southeast Missouri State University pursuing her master’s degree in criminal justice. She received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from the State University of New York at Oswego. Her research explores policy implications and prosecutorial perceptions. Her interests are in police culture, law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, youth violence and gang involvement, terrorism, and crime prevention.

Dr. Janne E. Gaub is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She studies policing using both quantitative and qualitative methods, with a particular focus on police technology, misconduct, specialty units, and gender.

Dr. Marthinus C. Koen is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego) where he teaches classes such as research methods, cannabis studies, policing, poaching, and criminal profiling. Dr. Koen is easily bored and therefore his research interests are always evolving, making him a true generalist. He has conducted research concerning police technology, prosecutorial organizations, criminal justice pedagogy, COVID-19, international IRB regulations, and anti-poaching efforts in Africa.

Dr. James J. Willis is a professor and Chair of the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. His research interests are police organizations, police reform, and police technology.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?