Can an inmate get a copy of the discovery? 43 Answers as of June 26, 2013

How can the inmate get a copy of the discovery, since his lawyer is just avoiding on giving one to him. Is there any right for the prisoner so he can make a petition himself?

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
Generally speaking, all clients have a right to see the "essential contents of their file" pursuant to the applicable rules of professional responsibility in most states. Defense attorneys are usually given "discovery" from the prosecutor and they should have that information. The defense may also file a motion to demand discovery from the prosecuting attorney if the prosecuting attorney is refusing to provide evidence that may ultimately be used at trial.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/2/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
No. If you are represented by counsel the only way to get the report is through your attorney. My philosophy is to minimize the written reports I give a client who is in jail because it is always my fear that in a serious case a jailhouse informant will get ahold of them. It is a matter of philosophy of each individual defense lawyer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/25/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
If requested by the inmate to his attorney the attorney should provide the client a redacted copy of the discovery.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/25/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
If you are acting as your own attorney, "pro se", you should be able to get the discovery. If you have an attorney, he will be the one who gets the discovery.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 8/25/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
I do not know what you have been charged with. The rules for discovery mandate that the discovery always remain with the defendant's attorney. The defendant is free to read the discovery, but cannot have a copy of it. This is to protect certain confidences that may be in the discovery. Talk with your lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/25/2011
    Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law
    Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law | Glenn M. Sowa
    Under the rules of discovery in Illinois, documents given to the defense attorney are for the attorney's use only in preparation of the client's defense. The documents may not be disseminated by the attorney. You may file a freedom of information request directly to the police department.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/24/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    I would suggest that you write a letter to the attorney requesting the discovery. If it is not received timely, I would write a letter to the judge who handled the case requesting the discovery.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/24/2011
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    You can certainly ask the court for a redacted copy of the discovery materials.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/24/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    It is the attorney's job to let him have access to any discovery he's been given. You may need to consider hiring a new lawyer or perhaps writing a letter to the judge telling him what is going on. You may also threaten the lawyer with filing a grievance with the bar if he does not comply.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/24/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Ask the judge to have the attorney give him copies of the discovery.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/24/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    An defendant/inmate has a right to a copy of the discovery that has been redacted so as not to show names / addresses of witnesses. The problem with getting a copy of the discovery in jail is that someone may steal it. They may then use the information in the discovery to 'snitch' on the defendant/inmate in order to get a lighter sentence or favorable treatment. They will say that the defendant/inmate told them this or that. It will seem more legitimate because the only way they could have learned that was from the defendant/inmate or the discovery. So most lawyers avoid giving their in-custody clients copies of the discovery. The defendant/inmate should ask the lawyer to view the discovery in a meeting with the lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    An inmate who is represented by an attorney must go through that attorney to obtain discovery.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    I'm not sure that a person actually has a personal "right" to have his police reports. If the person is represented by counsel then the attorney usually asserts that right for the person. Most lawyers do provide clients a copy of police reports (if the jurisdiction allows them to, although Oregon does allow it). Occasionally the nature of the crime (like sex crimes for example), makes it a bad idea for the inmate to have a copy of the police reports since the other inmates are both nosey and not so nice to people who are accused of certain crimes. Nothing stops the person from asking the DA directly but the DA is just going to refer the request back to his attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    Discovery in a criminal case is very limited ( unlike in a civil case where it is more liberal ) see Criminal Procedure law article 240 ( CPL 240 ) . You shoud ask your attorney to make a discovery request and if he says no ask why and if not satisfied apply to the court yourself to try to obtain discovery.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    The defendant should have a frank talk with is attorney as to what information the attorney has and how the case will be defended. The attorney works for the client and should share with the client what information he/she has.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    They should give you a copy. Ask the judge next time your in court.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Rose & Rose | Terry Rose
    Client is entitled to Discovery material. If your attorney is refusing to give it to you, consult with another attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/9/2013
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    I would advise you to call the prosecuting attorney's office and speak with the discovery clerk. You can advise the clerk that you are representing yourself on a post conviction matter and would like to know the charge for copies of your file documents. Once you learn the amount for copy costs, write them a letter requesting the documents and enclose the copy fee. Make sure to reference the district court file number in your letter. Upon receipt of the check and letter, the discovery clerk will forward the documents to you by mail.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Your lawyer should provide you a copy, if lawyer refuses you should fire lawyer and get another. The file is actually clients. In my opinion it is unethical and malpractice to not send discovery to a client.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    Any person is entitled to a copy of his discovery. However, if you are an inmate the attorney has to mark out addresses, telephone number and social security numbers if any are in the discovery.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq.
    Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq. | John J. Connors, Esq.
    Any good lawyer would provide discovery to you at your request. If the lawyer is not satisfactory, you need to change attorneys. There should be a good working relationship between the client and the attorney whether you are on the street or incarcerated. The attorney works for you. An assistant district attorney would deal with the attorney and not the client. In a written letter, ask the attorney to detail what discovery has been provided and ask him or her to provide copies of everything to you. If he does not comply, ask him or her to remove himself or herself from the case and hire someone you can work with.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates | George Woodworth
    Discovery in a criminal case is the right of the Defendant to get access to all of the police reports, lab and expert reports, and all evidence of any kind that the prosecution intends to use against him. Normally, when the Defendant is represented, the Attorney will provide the client with copies of this discovery. However, the Attorney may not give his client the address of any prosecution witness. This and any info that could result in revealing such addresses must be deleted from any discovery given to Defendant. Most Attorneys provide their clients with proper copies of these reports, but if he refuses the Judge may intervene. If that doesn't work then the District Attorney has the original, and a copy can be purchased from that office. If all this fails then you should contact an experienced Defense Attorney for assistance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You are entitled to a copy of your file, including all motions, discovery, and accusatory instruments. Write your attorney and ask for a copy of the file and if he does not respond write a letter to the court indicating that your request was ignored. Do not make any motions pro se, you may make inadvertent admissions and the court will ignore them anyway.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    You need to go through the attorney. If there is no cooperation, then you need to let the Judge know at the next hearing. If this is still a problem, then there may be a breakdown in the attorney client relationship such that the Judge will appoint a different attorney I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    You must get any discovery through your lawyer. Generally, there is nothing for you to "get". The lawyer should review whatever the lawyer receives with you, and tell you about whatever the lawyer inspects that is in the possession of the state or law enforcement. You are not entitled to a copy of the offense report.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Aaronson Law Firm
    Aaronson Law Firm | Michael Aaronson
    If you're attorney has the discovery, but refuses to give it to you, contact the bar and make a complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Smith & John
    Smith & John | Kenneth Craig Smith, Jr.
    You should be able to obtain a copy from the Clerk of Court.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Eric J Schurman, Attorney at Law
    Eric J Schurman, Attorney at Law | Eric James Schurman
    Your attorney is not allowed to give you a copy of discovery with court approval.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Yes. A defendant whether in jail or prison or not is entitled to see his "discovery". The problem attorneys have with giving incarcerated inmates their discovery is that if someone reads it they can learn about the crime and then claim the inmate confessed. So some attorneys, me included, are concerned about giving people in jail the discovery. On the other hand if requested I give it with instructions to guard it with their life.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Demand it from your lawyer in writing. If he refuses or neglects to give it to you then fire him for cause. If he's assigned, then write a letter to the judge explaining that you need a new lawyer who will include you in the defense.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    No, an inmate cannot just request copies unless they represent themselves, and even in that scenario, it may be limited or redacted, depending on the case and the court's orders. The attorney may have a very good reason for not wanting to give an inmate copies of their reports - anything from they don't want a jailhouse snitch to have access to the reports to make up a false confession or for the inmate's safety, depending on the charges and the allegations.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Under court rule, a defendant cannot obtain a copy of a police report from an attorney. The defendant may examine it and make notes but the attorney may not release it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    If you have an attorney, you do not petition the court for anything except to have the attorney relieved if he or she has not performed to the standards of competent counsel. An attorney is not required to provide a defendant with a copy of the police report and is prohibited from providing information about witness/victim address and phone number. Sometimes it is in the best interest of the defendant not to be provided a copy of the report.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    I know public defenders cannot give you copies of your discovery unless you pay for it. You could pay them or maybe buy it directly from the police department.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    No. Are you sure the lawyer has it? Most discovery doesn't get turned over to the defense attorney until hearings and trial.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    A lawyer cannot legally give discovery to a defendant unless it has been redacted and the redacted version approved by the prosecution. You can make a public records request for the discovery and you will be charged per page for that. In Pierce County the request would be made to LESA Records.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    If you are represented by attorney, there are rules prohibiting your attorney from giving you your own copy of discovery without the permission of the court. You could always submit a public records request and get a copy of discovery. Some prosecutors may hold this against you however and not work with you towards an amicable resolution.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    If the attorney hasn't given you the discovery, you should let the judge know at the next court hearing. If you don't want to wait, contact the attorney and find out why he or she isn't providing it. If they don't give you a response, contact their supervisor if they have one.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    If you ask to represent yourself then you are entitled to obtain discovery.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Discovery is provided to the attorney and by court rule must remain in the attorney's exclusive possession and control, unless the prosecutor approves giving it to third persons with agreed redactions.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of John Schum, LLC
    Law Office of John Schum, LLC | John Schum
    Thank you for contacting my office for answers to your questions. Please understand that my responses are general in nature and the law often focuses on specific facts. Before making any legal decisions, you should go over all the facts and specific circumstances of your situation with a lawyer. Additionally, my responses do not create an attorney-client relationship. Your comments to me are confidential and I cannot repeat them. However, I am not representing you on this matter, unless we later establish a formal attorney-client relationship. Now to provide a response to your question. You can get a copy of your discovery. You need to tell your attorney that you want a copy. If you have told him this, I would write him a letter so you have proof of it. The defense attorney needs to tell the prosecutor that you are getting a copy of the discovery and you will probably have to sign a statement saying that you will not give it to anyone else and only use it for this case. The discovery you get will be redacted. That is the phone numbers, addresses and other personal information will be blackened out. If you still don't get a copy, then wait until you go to court and notify the judge. I hope this helps you sort your legal situation out.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 8/22/2011
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