Discovery Reform in New York | Major Legislative Provisions

On April 1, 2019, New York State passed sweeping criminal justice reform legislation, including discovery reform, requiring prosecutors to disclose their evidence to the defense earlier in case proceedings. The discovery reforms went into effect January 1, 2020, but were amended in April 2020, with an effective date 30 days later. In April 2022, New York State included further amendments to the discovery statute, along with other criminal justice reforms, in the state budget. This document, originally published in 2019 and updated in 2020, incorporates those most recent changes.

The impact of discovery reform—regardless of amendments—rests on how well it is implemented and enforced. Compared to the pre-reform era, accelerated discovery timelines remain in force, even after the April 2022 amendments. If implemented properly, the current law has the potential to shrink case processing times, resulting in shorter jail stays for people held in pretrial detention. By facilitating a defendant’s ability to prepare a defense, the reform may also result in fewer prison or jail sentences and more just outcomes.

It is critical that future research answer these questions about whether the reform is meeting these objectives across New York State.