This column proposes changes that should be made to the federal criminal discovery process in response to restrictions imposed to deal with the COVID-19 conditions. It also deals with the application of the recently adopted Due Process Protection Act, 18 USCA FRCRP, Sec. 61 Note.
The COVID-19 virus has caused many restrictions on the criminal process, in both the investigation stage and the actual criminal trial. For example, restrictions on contacting or meeting with independent third parties at different locations is difficult. The prosecutor does not suffer most of these restrictions as he has the assistance of federal agents who, upon contacting a third party and showing their credentials, in most cases, get immediate cooperation. The defense counsel or his investigators are most often greeted with a refusal to meet with strangers, citing the danger of contacting the virus.
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