The federal system and most states allow prosecutors to withhold evidence needed by the defense. To encourage reforms, NACDL has adopted two model bills: one prescribing open-file discovery and another clarifying the Brady rule by requiring the disclosure of all favorable evidence.
Legislation & Policy
- State Legislative Victories
- Federal Reform Legislation
- Reform Proposals
- Pending Legislation (Legislative tracking services returning soon)
- Department of Justice Policies
- Reports & Research
- The Champion Brady Issue
- Interview with Senator Stevens' Counsel
- NACDL's "America Needs Sensible Discovery Reform" Webcast
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.
- Trying to Stem the Tide: Closing the Door on Social Media Evidence
Criminal Procedure: The Due Process Protection Act: How Rule 5(f) Came to Be
and Where Do We Go from Here?
Rule 5(f)(1) requires judges to inform prosecutors of their obligation to produce exculpatory information and provides that courts may hold prosecutors accountable if they do not comply with a Brady order. Rule 5(f)(2) requires that each circuit council promulgate a Model Order that a district court “may use as it determines is appropriate.”
NACDL Releases Model Order Pursuant to the Due Process Protections Act
The amended Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5 requires that in all criminal proceedings, at the first scheduled court date at which both the prosecutor and defense counsel are present, the judge must issue an order confirming the prosecutor’s disclosure obligations under Brady v. Maryland. Defense lawyers should consider NACDL’s Model Standing Order on the Prosecution’s Brady Obligations.
- From the President: Unable to Bear the Weight of the ‘Document Dump’: A Heavy Burden on Individuals
News Release ~ 04/01/2019
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Welcomes Criminal Justice Reforms Adopted by the State of New York -- Washington, DC (Apr. 1, 2019) – On Sunday, March 31, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Senate and Assembly reached agreement concerning multiple, significant pretrial criminal justice reforms as part of the state’s FY 2020 budget package. These changes will take effect in 2020. The reforms concern speedy access to trial, discovery in criminal cases, and bail and pretrial release.
News Release ~ 09/06/2018
Supreme Court of Virginia Overhauls Criminal Discovery Rules; Major Victory for Broad, Bipartisan Coalition of Criminal Justice Reformers – Washington, DC (Sept. 6, 2018) – Late yesterday, Sept. 5, 2018, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued amended criminal discovery rules set to take effect July 1, 2019, marking the first such overhaul in decades. Specifically, the Court issued amended Rules 3A:11 (Discovery and Inspection) and 3A:12 (Subpoena) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
News Release ~ 01/17/2018
Department of Justice Successfully Blocks Public Access to Its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book – Washington, D.C. (Jan. 17, 2018) – Earlier today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed notice of its decision not to appeal the release of an extremely limited portion of its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. The portion of the Blue Book that the Court found was not work product was a tiny fraction – what amounts to not much more than a handful of pages – out of a manual that contains at least 265 pages.
- "Man jailed for 9 years in murder case settles for $3M from NYC after his lawyers say Queens prosecutor withheld evidence,"
- "Judge cuts sentence after defense lawyer claims 'shady shenanigans' by federal prosecutor,"
- "Dallas prosecutor disbarred for withholding evidence that could have cleared men of murder charges,"