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Abstract

In order for the promise of a strong and reliable criminal justice system to work properly in Virginia, there must be strong and prepared advocates on both sides of the process. The current process of discovery for criminal cases in Virginia fosters a culture of secrecy and unpreparedness that should not be tolerated in a system that has such power over the lives of every person in this state. It is far past the time for Virginia to move forward on criminal discovery reform. The current rules for criminal discovery in Virginia were first adopted in 1972. The rules do not require pretrial disclosure of witness statements, a list of witnesses, or police investigative reports. Over the past forty-four years, we have learned a great deal about the way our justice system falls short. DNA exonerations and wrongful convictions have demonstrated that mistakes happen more often than anyone would like to believe. The criminal justice system is not infallible but instead just as human as its creators. Our society has learned that there must be an appropriate counterweight to governmental power.