BATON ROUGE – The East Baton Rouge district attorney and public defender announced a “historic agreement” between the two offices on Monday.
District Attorney Hillar Moore announced in a news release that he and Public Defender Michael Mitchell have agreed to make it easier for defendants to view evidence against them. The agreement also includes the prosecutor’s right to see certain kinds of evidence that may be used during trial.
Today, Hillar C. Moore, III, the District Attorney for East Baton Rouge, Michael A. Mitchell, the Public Defender of Baton Rouge, announced a historic agreement between their offices concerning discovery: the defendant’s right to view the evidence against him and the State’s right to receive reciprocal discovery of evidence from the defendant. Under Louisiana law, these rights are detailed in the Code of Criminal Procedure but have traditionally required pleadings to be filed in every case by both sides requesting the specific information sought. By this agreement, filed in the 19th Judicial District Court and attached to this release, the two parties (the District Attorney who is responsible for 100% of state criminal prosecutions and the Public Defender who is responsible for defending 60-75% of persons charged with state crimes) have agreed to establish standardized discovery exchange mechanisms that will no longer require the filing of any pleadings and will operate automatically within agreed upon time limits. This agreement also sets in place a framework for the electronic exchange of this information that will come into place with the adoption of a new criminal case management system by the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court in August, 2018. Finally, the parties intend that the provisions of this agreement that define the District Attorney’s “open file” discovery practices and the Public Defender’s commitment to timely reciprocal discovery will no longer allow “trial by ambush” by either party.
Hillar Moore said, “I am only aware of one other jurisdiction nationwide that has entered into a similar agreement, the District Attorney in Seattle, Washington, and do not know of any similar agreements existing in the State of Louisiana.” Mike Mitchell commented that “this agreement should improve the efficiency of both offices by reducing many of the pleadings typically exchanged by our offices. It is our expectation that any discovery pleadings needed in the future would be the result of very unusual situations.”