Defense Lawyers Concerned About Law Changes

Defense lawyers are concerned about a proposed law in the state Legislature that would allow prosecutors more freedom to withhold information in criminal cases.

State law now requires prosecutors to document each conversation they have with a potential witness in a criminal trial. The proposed change is aimed at protecting the identity of confidential informants. It also would protect personal information such as Social Security numbers.The changes also would prevent defense lawyers from seeing records, reports, correspondence or interview notes.

Defense lawyer Jim Cooney says the changes are dangerous for defendants. Cooney was one of the attorneys representing Duke
lacrosse players whose charges were dropped after the defense used the records to help them. The state's prosecutor association says the changes would help district attorneys avoid an overload of paperwork.