Ron in Houston asked me this morning (as he did Mark Bennett) my opinion of Lisa Falkenberg's article today about Kelly Siegler and her idea about the copying program. That's a two part question. Mark Bennett made fun of me a couple of weeks ago for using "faint praise", so I guess my thoughts on Falkenberg's article is something akin to that.
At this point, I guess that I'm just surprised that the Chronicle isn't posting a daily column entitled "Guess What Those Sh*theads Did Now!" about the D.A.'s office. So, in the big scheme of things, I think its okay.
The idea that Kelly has come up with about allowing Defense Attorneys to copy offense reports is actually one that is extremely signfigant, even if it has been a long time coming. The amount of time that it will save for both the defense and the prosecution is potentially limitless. Diligent and hard-working members of the defense bar will no longer have to spend hours on end at the D.A.'s office taking notes. Trials won't be delayed as while the defense has to quickly review a copy of the report. Cases will even get to trial faster because such a major portion of the prep work will now be taken care of, literally, at the push of a button.
And for the record, I never really got the whole prohibition against taking down things "word for word", but I've been admonished about not doing that, myself, so I know it's true. That's just silly.
So, my position on the policy? I think it's fantastic.
I think there will need to be some kinks to be ironed out if the policy is put in place, and the Dick DeGuerin quotes illustrates one of those points.
Technically, the offense report is work product, under the Rules. The State isn't required to allow the defense to see it. Where Dick got his nose out-of-joint about this issue was over the Temple trial. Dick and Kelly go together like oil and water. He grieved her. She was upset. She didn't trust him. She closed the file to him.
So my first question that would need to be ironed out is: Will it remain within the prosecutor's discretion if he wants to close a file to a defense attorney (even if that includes not allowing the copying)?
My second question would be: Who is responsible for making sure the defense attorney is up-to-date on having the latest supplements? Right now, all of the courts are running well over 700 cases. If prosecutors are responsible for keeping tabs on the latest supplements and then notifying the defense attorney that they need to get a copy of the latest supplement, the situation will quickly become unmanageable.
I think the answers to these questions are all solved with some thinking, and should in no way diminish the Great Idea that it is. I do think there are going to be some details to iron out.
Any other issues you guys can think of that might pop up, and ways to solve them? I'm sure I'm missing plenty.