• Gennaro Calabrese

Recent Changes to Discovery Reform in New York

In April 2020, changes were made to the discovery laws in New York. These changes took effect July 2, 2020.


Previously, the prosecution was required to perform its initial discovery obligations not later than 15 days after an individual’s arraignment. The recent changes to the discovery laws expanded that timeframe. Now, when an individual is in custody, the prosecution is required to perform its initial discovery obligations within 20 days after arraignment. Or, when an individual is not in custody, the prosecution is required to perform its initial discovery obligations within 35 days after arraignment. See Section 245.10(1)(a) of the Criminal Procedure Law.


Regarding traffic infractions under the Vehicle & Traffic Law, the prosecution is required to perform its discovery obligations not later than 15 days before trial. See Section 245.10(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Procedure Law.


The recent changes permit the prosecution to withhold from disclosure information related to or evidencing the identity of a 911 caller, the victim or witness of an offense defined under Article 130 or Sections 230.34 and 230.34-a of the Penal Law, or any other victim or witness of a crime where the defendant has a substantiated affiliation with a criminal enterprise as defined in Section 460.10(3) of the Penal Law. This information may be withheld or redacted without need for a motion by the prosecution; however, the prosecution must notify the defendant in writing that such information has not been disclosed. See Section 245.20(1)(c) of the Criminal Procedure Law. The defendant is permitted to move the court for disclosure of this information. See Section 245.10(1)(a)(iv)(A) of the Criminal Procedure Law. If the prosecution intends to call at trial or hearing any person who contacted 911, it must disclose the name and contact information of such witness no later than 15 days before trial or hearing. See Section 245.20(1)(g) of the Criminal Procedure Law.


The recent changes also provide that when discoverable materials are “exceptionally voluminous or despite diligent, good faith efforts, are otherwise not in the actual possession of the prosecution,” the prosecution may move the court to extend the time period outlined above. See Section 245.10(1)(a)(iv)(B) of the Criminal Procedure Law.


Information related to the results of physical or mental examinations, or scientific tests or experiments or comparisons, is not required to be disclosed “unless and until such examinations, tests, experiments, or comparisons have been completed.” See Section 245.20(1)(j) of the Criminal Procedure Law.


Importantly, the new legislation requires challenges to, or questions related to a certificate of compliance be addressed by motion. See Section 245.50(4) of the Criminal Procedure Law. Previously, challenges to, or questions related to a certificate of compliance could be heard orally on the record.

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