ALBANY – Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson was among 50-plus district attorneys and assistant district attorneys attended a day-long event sponsored by the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY) to help small and mid-size counties with their implementation of new discovery requirements that will be effective January 1, 2020.
The laws were passed as part of the State Budget agreement and will require prosecutors to disclose all discovery within their possession within 15 days of arraignment. The new law will also significantly increase the number of cases where full discovery will be required.
“The issues presented by the new legislation are understood statewide,” Swanson said in a press release. “Every single one of the 50 district attorneys present indicated that they needed more staff to comply with the requirements of the new law. There were 50 counties outside of the New York City area represented. That is nearly 100% of Upstate NY. The concerns are real, the issues are substantial and I will continue to fight for the funding we need to continue to prosecute case effectively.”
“Our smaller District Attorney office have unique issues that will impact the process of retrieving, reviewing and exchanging materials such as police reports, 911 transcripts, medical records, body worn camera footage and many other materials relevant to prosecuting a case. The process of preparing discovery for exchange is extremely labor intensive and requires an investment in technology and resources,” said DAASNY President Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler. “Our goal was to share ideas about how we can efficiently manage compliance with the new law with the real possibility of no additional resources in many counties.”
The District Attorneys and their staff discussed the details of retrieving discovery from the New York State Police as well as issues related to laboratory analyses. They also discussed ways to manage the increase in discovery related to traffic tickets.
“Adequately complying with the new discovery law will require completely new processes and management of staff. All of our offices are asking their counties for additional money in their budgets to hire and train more staff, to purchase document scanners and printers, to upgrade computer systems and pay for secure cloud storage to store the voluminous materials,” said past DAASNY President David Soares who co-chaired the meeting. “Many of these counties do not have the financial resources to adequately fund these requests. We hope by working together and sharing our plans that we can help find solutions on the best ways to implement the new laws.”
In upcoming months DAASNY members will continue to plan for how to comply with the new laws as well as continue to dialogue with law enforcement partners on the best ways to carry out the new laws.