Seems like no matter what we try, we still have trouble getting "everything" from agencies when they file a case. I realize most are inadvertent omissions but was wondering if anyone has come up with a system that helps get complete case files?
I think this was, is, and forever will be the issue that we struggle with in our effort to comply with the ever-increasing discovery burdens under which we labor and toil.
We aren't requiring them to swear. We have a checklist with just about anything they could have on a case that they complete along with our Intake that provides a good guidepost, but I find that we're constantly finding untagged videos, photographs, and supplements as we prepare for trial in lots of cases.
"What's the point of being a prosecutor if you're not having fun?" -- Bill Mietzen, former DA, Ft. Bend Co.
Can anyone think of anything the legislature has done that has sucked the fun out of prosecution as completely as the Michael Morton Act? It has turned our jobs into one big tedious paper chase.
My office sends Discovery to defense attorneys in a DVD, so we have no idea if the attorneys read all that crap. However, at a TDCAA Michael Morton Act training, I learned that in offices that send Discovery via an e-mail program that lets you know if the recipient opened your email, it is not uncommon to find that defense attorneys don't bother to look at the discovery we send them at great cost.
And I have to admit: I don't blame them much, since 95% of what we send them is legal spam or junk mail. Just one little example: The Beeville PD insists on including in every case report a form that states whether or not the suspect was gassed with O.C. gas, and if he was gassed, whether or not he was given instructions on how to mitigate the effect of O.C. gas. Since 95% of the suspects are not gassed, the two page form, if you bothered to read the whole thing, informs the defense atty.: we did not gas your client and we did not inform him how to mitigate the effect of O.C. gas.
But who are we mere prosecutors to judge that such non-information is not material under Michael Morton? As the TDCAA advises: give them everything. So it gets sent to the defense every time.
I had a judge ask me about possible actions he can take in response to law enforcement continuing to fail to turn over evidence in a case. He understands that the prosecutors are making diligent requests for everything and being told that everything has been disclosed only to find out that there is something else that is discovered in the eve of trial. He is understandably frustrated.
I was just wondering what other counties are doing when they have these repeated issues come up.