Discovery in criminal cases; duty to provide. (SB167)

Introduced By

Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Moneta) with support from co-patron Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Discovery in criminal cases; duty to provide. Requires the attorney for the Commonwealth, upon written notice by an accused to the court and to the attorney for the Commonwealth, to permit the accused to inspect and copy or photograph (i) any relevant written or recorded statements or confessions made by the accused and the substance of any oral statements or confessions made by the accused to any law-enforcement officer; (ii) any relevant written reports of autopsies, ballistic tests, fingerprint analyses, handwriting analyses, blood, urine, and breath tests, and other scientific reports and written reports of a physical or mental examination of the accused or the alleged victim; (iii) any books, papers, documents, tangible objects, buildings, or places, or copies or portions thereof, that are within the possession, custody, or control of the Commonwealth; (iv) any relevant police reports, as defined in the bill; and (v) all relevant statements, as defined in the bill, of any non-expert witness whom the Commonwealth is required to designate on a witness list. The bill also provides that if the accused files a written notice the accused shall (a) permit the Commonwealth to inspect, copy, or photograph any written reports of autopsy examinations, ballistic tests, fingerprint, blood, urine, and breath analyses, and other scientific tests that are within the possession, custody, or control of the accused and that the accused intends to introduce in evidence at the trial or sentencing; (b) disclose whether he intends to introduce evidence to establish an alibi; (c) if he intends to rely upon a defense of insanity, permit the Commonwealth to inspect, copy, or photograph any written reports of physical or mental examination of the accused made in connection with the case; and (d) disclose all relevant statements of any non-expert witness, other than the defendant, whom the defense is required to designate on a witness list. The bill provides that for good cause a party may withhold or redact certain information from such disclosures and the opposing party may file a motion to compel disclosure or to remove any restriction. The accused's duty to provide discovery shall be in addition to any duty to provide reciprocal discovery pursuant to Rule 3A:11 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. Amends § 19.2-265.4, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »

Status

12/28/2017: Awaiting a Vote in the Courts of Justice Committee

History

DateAction
12/28/2017Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18100252D
12/28/2017Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/17/2018Continued to 2019 in Courts of Justice (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Comments

ACLU of Virginia writes:

The ACLU of Virginia supports reforms to our criminal discovery rules that will assure all defendants access to the evidence against them before they are asked to enter a plea or in time to make informed decisions about their defense at trial and reforms that make prosecutors accountable for unethical and unconstitutional actions in violation of those rules.

ACLU-VA Criminal Justice, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of VA strongly support discovery reform. For too long VA criminal courts have functioned under a "trial by ambush" with defendants not having full access to police reports, witness lists, and incriminating statements made against them. VA needs to have full discovery where prosecutors supply copies of all documents and reports. Prosecutors that fail to supply such evidence should be subject to separate disciplinary actions, not just bar complaints.

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