News Release

New Criminal Discovery Rules for U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Washington, DC (December 1, 1998) -- U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has promulgated new "self-executing, automatic" criminal discovery rules (effective date Dec. 1, 1998) which should serve as a model for every federal court in the country. For example, the new rules explicitly define exculpatory evidence which must be disclosed as material and favorable to the defendant because it tends to (1) cast doubt on defendant's guilt as to any essential element in any count in the indictment or information; (2) cast doubt on the admissibility of evidence that the government anticipates offering in its case-in-chief, that might be subject to a motion to suppress or exclude, which would, if allowed, be appealable pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3731; (3) cast doubt on the credibility or accuracy of any evidence that the government anticipates offering in its case-in-chief; or (4) diminish the degree of the defendant's culpability or the defendant's Offense Level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. 

The new discovery rules also prompted conforming amendments to the local rules governing motions practice and speedy trial excludable delays. Because these rules could be a veritable goldmine of persuasive precedent for creative discovery practice in federal courts everywhere, federal criminal practitioners are encouraged to download them by clicking on the link. In the future, we will also be permanently archiving the files on our website.

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.