Scott Levy Presented Testimony at Hearing on the Implementation of Discovery Reform
The New York State Senate
Standing Committee on Codes
Hearing on the Implementation of Pre-Trial Reform
September 9, 2019
Testimony of Scott D. Levy, Chief Policy Counsel
THE BRONX DEFENDERS
This spring, New York passed historic comprehensive discovery reform. BxD applauds the New York State Assembly, Senate, and the Governor — Senator Bailey and Assembly Member Lentol, in particular — for their commitment to get this piece of landmark legislation passed. The Discovery for Justice Reform Act (DFJRA) repealed one of the most regressive discovery laws in the country and replaced it with a system of open, early, and automatic discovery for all New Yorkers. With the enactment of the Act, New York went from the bottom of the pile to the top of the heap. The reform was made possible by the work over many years of a broad coalition of people directly impacted by the criminal legal system, public defenders, grassroots organizations, and criminal justice advocates from across New York.
As we look forward to implementation of the new law, it is important to remember what brought us to this point. For years, our clients — overwhelmingly people of color — have had to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives, whether to go to trial or plead guilty, in the dark. They have had to make this decision without knowing who the witnesses in their case are, what the evidence is against them is, and whether there is evidence that helps prove their innocence. Still, as we sit here now, prosecutors in New York are not even required to turn over basic police reports and witness statements until the day of trial, if at all. New York’s discovery rules have acted more as a blindfold than a guarantor of justice.
Watch the full testimony starting at 2:57:00 here
Read the full testimony here