New York State replaced its discovery law in January 2020 with a new statute requiring the sharing of evidence between the prosecution and defense on an accelerated timeline. The statute has since been amended twice—in April 2020 and April 2022.
Even under the less stringent guidelines, our updated review—carried out in partnership with the Data Collaborative for Justice—finds the reform could shrink case processing times, if fully implemented. Moreover, by facilitating a defendant’s ability to prepare a defense, the reform could result in fewer prison or jail sentences.
Much of the opposition to the reform has focused on the burdens imposed on district attorney’s offices. Sharing more information requires more effort; given New York's history of withholding information from defendants or disclosing it only on the eve of a trial, the review concludes discovery reform is a step forward for fairness and the legitimacy of the court process.