The Supreme Court of Virginia appointed a Special Committee on Criminal Discovery Rules that had members from all sides of the criminal justice system including law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and retired judges, and recently submitted a proposal for reforms to the Court, which is now taking public comments. The main suggestions include available Discovery prior to trial
Virignia has always been a Wild West state that requires trial attorneys to oftentimes be suprised by the evidence in front of them and shoot from the hip since Discovery does not allow Defense Counsel much in the way of available information prior to trial. That all might change given the new proposed rules. The new rules (which can be found here: http://www.courts.state.va.us/news/items/2015_0303_scv_press_release_comments_proposed_amendments.pdf ) would in the very least give us access to the police reports, information on witnesses at the scene of an alleged incident, and provide an opportunity to prepare a proper defense prior to coming to court.
These rules are also available for public comment. Some prosecutor offices have already begun fighting against these proposals so they would continue to be under no obligation to provide information other than a Defnedant's statements, or his/her record to Defense Counsel, and robbing the Defense team of a well prepared defense prior to trial. Defense bars across the state are writing in favor of these proposals as fair and just. You too can add your input in whether you think Defnedants have rights to prepare for their own cases, and share your thoughts on whether you believe both sides should have access to the same information.
If you wish to submit a public comment you may write to the Court at:
ATTN: Patricia Harrington, Clerk
Spureme Court of Virginia
100 North 9th Street, 5th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Or email, Subject Line: Comment on Criminal Discovery Rules to firstname.lastname@example.org
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