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"Prosecutorial perceptions of discovery reform on a local level" (by Gabrielle A. Roubanian, Janne E. Gaub, Marthinus C. Koen, and James J. Willis): Review 1

Published onApr 04, 2024
"Prosecutorial perceptions of discovery reform on a local level" (by Gabrielle A. Roubanian, Janne E. Gaub, Marthinus C. Koen, and James J. Willis): Review 1

Vote: Publish pending minor changes

Thank you for the opportunity to review this manuscript. I enjoyed reading it, and it fills in the gap in the literature about discovery laws and new reforms. This paper uses a qualitative approach to determine the practical implications related to the implementation of a new reform regarding discovery. This paper does a good job explaining the issue regarding the lack of decision by the Supreme Court to set standards for discovery rules (what evidence should be included and when it should occur). With an N of 35, the authors of this manuscript were able to gather opinions from various actors regarding the implementation of the discovery reform. I voted for a publish pending minor changes because some references/citation issues need to be fixed along with additional detail to explain how the coding was conducted and (if possible) if additional quotes could be added to illustrate some of the claims in the paper. I understand that due to the nature of the Zoom interviews not being recorded, this might be difficult, but I wanted to bring it to the attention of the researchers in case additional information was available.


On page 1, the U.S. Supreme Court should have (SCOTUS) in parentheses before using it in the second paragraph.

On page 10, you mention CPD but have never used the acronym before, the full name should be included.


A review of the references in the body of the paper and the reference section needs to be done. For example,

  • Bureau of Justice Assistance should be spelled out in the body of the paper.

  • On page 5, you have Gershowitz & Killings, but they are not in the references.

  • Gershowitz & Corn is not in the paper's body but in the references.

  • Corn and Gershowitz has 2009 on page 1 but 2010 in the rest of the paper

  • Imbler v. Pachtman is not in the body of the paper but is in the references

  • On page 6, you have Koen et al., 2019, and Koen and Mathna, 2019, on page 16. It is only Koen and Mathna in the references

  • Lynch, G. E. (1986) is not in the body of the paper but is in the references

  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers should be spelled out in the body of the paper before using the acronym.

  • Turner & Redlich 2016 is not in the references but in the body of the paper

  • Turner 2019 is not in the references but in the body of the paper

  • U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2005, November 14). Is not in the body of the paper but in the references

  • Weitzman, A., & Salant, D. (2021) is not in the body of the paper but in the references

On page 5, you say, “Prosecutors also encounter various sources of uncertainty related to their discretion and decision-making, addressing this uncertainty with bounded rationality (Albonetti, 1987).” This sentence lacks clarity and might need to be rephrased.

On page 6, a sentence could be added to explain recent hires. Is it six months? A year?

On page 6, Atlas.Ti should be ATLAS.ti

On page 6, you mention that the study is exploratory and used an inductive approach to coding. This is the first time the reader is made aware of the research's exploratory nature. Adding information specifically related to the study's exploratory nature earlier in the paper would be helpful.

On page 6, more detail should be included in the data analysis paragraph. You use a holistic approach with both inductive and deductive themes, but there is no mention of the research framework or prior research used to identify the themes you used in your deductive approach. Also, you say you let themes emerge from the data. Could this be tied back to a step of open coding to let the study speak to you first? If so, I suggest using Corbin & Strauss, 1990 and Berg & Lune, 2012 as resources to provide more detail on how coding was conducted.

Information is lacking to explain how the authors reconciled if there were discrepancies in coding and how agreement was reached.

I understand that interviews were not recorded, so it is difficult to show your arguments, as mentioned in the limitation section of your paper. However, there may be a few places throughout the paper that could benefit from using quotations from your respondents if those are at your disposal.

For instance, on page 7, you have an entire paragraph explaining the requirements for ADAs to fill out certificates of compliance; otherwise, they would face penalties. Have your respondents mentioned this process so you can include a quote to illustrate how ADAs have perceived this new requirement?

If available, a quote could be included to illustrate the 23 respondents claiming that the new reform created more work for them on page 7.

On page 8, you talk about charged vs. uncharged cases and how ADAs felt less pressure to move the case along if the case was uncharged. A quote to illustrate this claim would be good to have here.

On page 8, you say, “Four respondents perceived that even defense lawyers were overwhelmed by the amount of evidence they were receiving from prosecutors within the tight discovery window.” If you have a quote, it would be warranted here.

On pages 11 and 12, when you talk about defense attorneys almost expecting prosecutors to do their work for them and exploiting Order 66 for their own legal advantage, is there a quote you could use to illustrate what the prosecutors said?

I am unclear what you mean by “Examples of technicalities included defense concerns over certificates of compliance and how they were filled out and filed.” On page 12. What is the difference between filled out and filed?

In your last paragraph before the discussion, when you say that some defense attorneys would argue that the prosecution did not fulfill Order 66 requirements when they waited for evidence from law enforcement, have your respondents ever experienced a case where those circumstances occurred, and the defense filed a complaint for non-compliance or filed for misconduct because prosecutors supposedly withheld evidence? I wonder if something is to be said about a rise in prosecutorial misconduct complaints filed by the defense because of Order 66. Does your data indicate an increase in prosecution being reprimanded for not complying or supposedly not complying with the new requirements from Order 66?

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