A criminal defendant's right to access witnesses and evidence is essentially the right to present a defense. The accused should expect to be heard, present evidence that is material to her defense, compel witness testimony, and counter the evidence presented by the prosecution.
RIGHT TO DISCOVERY
Discovery is a legal term that refers to the process through which litigants exchange information. Criminal discovery is governed by Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, The Jenks Act, Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972).
The right to discovery is even more critical if a defendant is detained prior to trial. “[I]f a defendant is locked up, he is hindered in his ability to gather evidence, contact witnesses, or otherwise prepare his defense.” Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 533 (1972). It is therefore important that criminal defendants be granted access to discovery as early as possible so that they are not disadvantaged by long periods of pretrial detention and short periods of trial preparation.
RIGHT TO COMPULSORY PROCESS
A “pillar of our adversarial system, [the Compulsory Process Clause] . . . ensure[s] that justice is done,” by providing a process “for the production of evidence needed either by the prosecution or by the defense.” U.S. v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 709 (1974). Intimidation and fear prevent witnesses from coming forward or being willing to testify truthfully; current technology has altered the ways witnesses can be located and contacted, increasing the risks of such intimidation. However, innovations in technology may also provide a means by which to enhance witness protection. Additionally, while it is easy to understand how early access to a lawyer and investigator can improve an accused’s access to vital witnesses and evidence, many state and local governments are remiss in this regard, creating a need for education and training on the system-wide benefits of providing immediate access to a lawyer and investigative resources and related best practices.
If you are interested in obtaining Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) related to strengthening Sixth Amendment protections in your jurisdiction, click the link below.
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Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!