Criminal Discovery and Omnibus Procedure in a Federal Court: A Defense View

Weninger, Robert A.
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Southern California Law Review

This Article discusses the results of a field survey of the criminal discovery process in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California -the first of at least 10 jurisdictions to adopt the "omnibus procedure" promulgated by the American Bar Association in the Standards Relating to Discovery and Procedure Before Trial (Standards), part of its Project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice. The study is based primarily upon information obtained through personal interviews with attorneys who represented defendants in cases tried before juries in San Diego in the spring of 1974. The study analyzes the functioning of a largely informal discovery system, describes the disclosures generated by that system, and assesses the impact of those disclosures upon the trial processes. In particular, the study focuses on the following questions:

(1) What claims for the discovery process in San Diego are supported by the field research and what defects or malfunctions are revealed by it?

(2) What are the attitudes of the defense bar toward the discovery system and the disclosures made under it?

(3) Of what usefulness are the disclosures and how is the trial process affected by them?

(4) Are the disclosures made under this system of informal discovery of a greater scope than those called for either by the ABA Standards or by Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Criminal discovery process, California
49 S. Cal. L. Rev. 514