(NEW YORK) — Responding to news that Governor Hochul has been conducting closed-door meetings about potential rollbacks to historic discovery and speedy trial laws ahead of a budget vote next week, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem today called for an end to discussion of any discovery law changes in the budget.   

“The only conversations about discovery that are relevant to the budget are about how to fulfill the funding mandate of these laws,” said Meghna Philip, Special Litigation Attorney for Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.  “Ironically, these discussions about rollbacks to discovery and speedy trial statutes – laws crafted to ensure greater transparency and procedural fairness for those facing criminal charges – are taking place behind closed doors, without the input of public defenders. Perhaps this is why Governor Hochul seems to be peddling the false idea that these are small tweaks to the law. Public defenders know that these rollbacks would significantly undercut people’s rights to access the evidence in their cases, as well as their rights to a speedy trial. The proposed changes would shift the burden onto defense attorneys to guess what evidence prosecutors have failed to turn over; and would clog the courts with motions for evidence, which take many weeks, even months, to resolve and thus nullify an individual’s right to a speedy trial.” 

The discovery law’s critical due process safeguards that affect every single criminal case in New York cannot be modified in a totally non-transparent manner, without any legislative oversight or comprehensive public input. NDS calls on legislators to reject this bad policy and bad process.