Legal Aid Society


Defenders: Discovery Reform a Widespread Success

The Chief Defenders Association of New York, New York State Defenders Association, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others released a comprehensive statewide survey today detailing the widespread successes of discovery reform, which was signed into law in 2019.

The survey results revealed that the vast majority of criminal defense attorneys across New York State believe that discovery reform has achieved the desired results and has positively impacted not only their ability to provide competent representation, but also the fairness of New York’s criminal justice system.

“This report offers an important reminder of why New York enacted comprehensive discovery reforms in 2019,” said Susan Bryant, Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association. “Our old laws kept people in the dark about the evidence against them and resulted in wrongful convictions, pretrial delays, and unfairness.”

“The new discovery laws have had a positive impact on the lives of New Yorkers around the state,” she continued. “Defense attorneys are able to provide meaningful advice to their clients, conduct informed investigations, file more specific and informed motions, and engage in meaningful negotiations.”

Lawmakers in Albany are currently considering changes to New York’s pretrial reforms, including discovery, but Bryant warns that these so-called “tweaks” will “undermine the fundamental principles of discovery reform and will impede the strides made towards greater transparency and fairness in our criminal legal system.”

“New York has taken the blindfold off and this report makes clear that we must never put it back on,” she said.