DOJ Adopts New Discovery Policy for Criminal Matters and Appoints First National Coordinator for Criminal Discovery Initiatives
By E. Lawrence Barcella, KirD. Behre, Thomas OBrien, and John P. Gebauer
After several well-publicized discovery missteps by the U.S. Department of Justice (the DOJ), most notably during the prosecution of former United States Senator Ted Stevens last year, the DOJ appointed Andrew Goldsmith as its first national coordinator for criminal discovery initiatives on January 15, 2010.
In response to the Stevens debacle and public criticism from a number of federal judges, the DOJ convened a working group to explore the DOJs policies, practices, and training related to criminal case management and discovery. Following recommendations from this group, the DOJ issued three memoranda on January 4, 2010including guidance for all federal prosecutorsthat detail the steps the Department has taken to ensure that prosecutors assess and meet their obligations to disclose information to criminal defendants. While a long overdue and welcome step, there is enough latitude permitted to temper enthusiasm.