gavel

East Baton Rouge prosecutors and public defenders on Monday announced an agreement that will standardize the process of releasing discovery information during a criminal case.

Traditionally lawyers on both sides have to file pleadings requesting the release of specific information. But the new agreement will eliminate the need for those pleadings, according to a news release from District Attorney Hillar Moore III.

State law outlines the defendants' right to view evidence against them and the prosecution's right to receive reciprocal evidence from the defense. 

Moore and East Baton Rouge Chief Public Defender Mike Mitchell "have agreed to establish standardized discovery exchange mechanisms that no longer require the filing of any pleadings and will operate automatically within agreed upon time limits."

Both parties said the agreement will allow for a more open exchange of information and prevent "trial by ambush" situations, according to the release.

"This agreement should improve the efficiency of both offices," Mitchell said in a statement. "It is our expectation that any discovery pleadings needed in the future would be the result of very unusual situations."

Budget constraints have affected the two offices in recent years, with leaders of both decrying a lack of state funding.

Compiled from staff reports. To contact a crime reporter at The Advocate, email policereporters@theadvocate.com or call (225) 388-0369.