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DA’s across New York say discovery law changes need to be funded

For hours on Monday, state lawmakers took testimony from law enforcement officials, criminal justice advocates and attorneys on a little noticed but major change in how people are prosecuted in the state: speeding up the time for processing evidence and turning it over to the defense.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved criminal justice law changes meant to speed up the discovery process for evidence. But county district attorneys say that change did not come with any funding to implement it.

“It’s placing an awful lot of burden on the county to have to pick up for these policies that have been changed by our state,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares.

Processing evidence is a time-consuming task. There can be hours of video footage shot by a police body camera or dash camera alone to review. Soares says that’s then multiplied many times over by the thousands of felony and misdemeanor arrests every year.

“If we have to do that for all cases, then we would never have time to do anything else, which is why you need an investment of people as well as technology,” he said.

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