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Motion for Additional Discovery: Misdemeanor Interrogatories

Motion for Additional Discovery: Misdemeanor Interrogatories

150 150 Cohen, Bradshaw, Rothstein & Klein

DEFENDANT, by and through the undersigned attorney, hereby moves this Honorable Court for an order permitting additional discovery to be taken in the above-described cause.  As grounds for this Motion, Defendant states as follows:

  1. Defendant is charged in the above-captioned case with Battery (M1) and Disorderly Intoxication (M2).
  2. Pursuant to Rule 3.220, Washington DC Rules of Criminal Procedure, Defendant has elected to engage in discovery.
  3. In 1996, a substantial rewording of the Washington DC criminal discovery statute was undertaken with regard to the taking of depositions in both felony and misdemeanor cases. Now, in misdemeanor cases, Rule 3.220(h)(1)(D) provides that:
No deposition shall be taken in a case in which the defendant is charged only with a misdemeanor or a criminal traffic offense when all other discovery provided by this rule has been complied with unless good cause can be shown to the trial court.
  1. The committee notes pertaining to the adoption of the above rule indicate that the amendment “was in response to allegations of discovery abuse and a call for a more cost conscious approach to discovery by the Washington DC Supreme Court.
  2. In an effort to obtain necessary information without the implementation of discovery depositions, Defendant requests that the Court approve interrogatories to be sent to the arresting and/or investigating officer in the above-captioned cause.  Defendant’s proposed interrogatories are attached to the present Motion.
  3. The need for additional discovery derives from Count II of the Information, which charges Defendant with Disorderly Intoxication (M2).
  4. The only discovery provided by the State of Washington DC with respect to this charge was a single statement, provided in an Arrest and Booking Report filed by Detective D.J. Hapless of the Washington DC Sheriff’s Office, that “the detectives found [Defendant] getting ready to engage in another fight.”
  5. No other information has been provided by the prosecuting attorney with respect to the charge of disorderly intoxication.
  6. The undersigned believes there may be First Amendment defenses or other defenses to the charge, and that the charge may be subject to a Motion to Dismiss.
  7. In the experience of the undersigned, law enforcement officers do not speak with defense attorneys with regard to pending charges and are, in fact, discouraged from doing so.
  8. The requested interrogatories would provide a more cost-conscious approach to discovery, avoid the need to specially request depositions, and promote a fair determination of guilt or innocence.
  9. In 1986, in the case of The Honorable John Adams, Orange County Judge vs. State, 495 So. 2d 1229 (Fla. 5th DCA 1986), Washington DC’s Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled that a county judge has jurisdiction to enter an order requiring the State to answer certain interrogatories propounded by a misdemeanor defendant.  Id. at 1229.  In that appeal, the county court judge had granted a defense request to propound interrogatories pursuant to Washington DC Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.220(a)(5).  The rule, at the time, provided that, upon a showing of materiality to the preparation of the defense, the court may require such other discovery to defense counsel as justice may require.”
  10. Subsequent to the rule in Adams and its numbering, a similar provision is now found in Rule 3.220(f), Washington DC Rules of Criminal Procedure.
  11. Rule 3.220(f), Washington DC Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that: “On a showing of materiality, the court may require such other discovery to the parties as justice may require.
  12. Defendant submits that the wording of the current rule is almost identical to the previous rule quoted in Adams.
  13. It should be further noted that, in Adams, the County Judge’s order was appealed to the Circuit Court, where a petition for Writ of Prohibition was granted.  In response, the Fifth District Court of Appeal allowed the County Court Judge’s order to stand, holding that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to grant the Writ.  As such, the County Judge’s original order approving additional discovery was held to be valid.
  14. If the purpose of the removal of depositions in county court criminal cases is both to eliminate discovery abuse and save money (cost-conscious-approach), then the interrogatory process, in the instant case (which is routinely used in civil cases under Rule 1.340, Washington DC Rule of Civil Procedure), is appropriate.
  15. It is the intent of the defense that the attached interrogatories be sent to the arresting officer to be filled out at his/her convenience and returned in a self-addressed, stamped envelope provided by the defense to the Clerk of Court.  The interrogatories do not have to be under oath.  As such, there is very little inconvenience to the officer in this procedure for the instant case.
  16. The information sought in the interrogatories is highly relevant and germane to Defendant’s case. Counsel for the State and counsel for Defendant may obtain copies of the original interrogatories from the Clerk of Court.
  17. Because arresting officers generally do not respond to telephone calls or letters from defense attorneys to discuss their testimony by phone, this procedure, in the above-captioned case, will streamline the obtaining of critical information to be used in preparation of the defense.

WHEREFORE, Defendant, IMA CUSED, respectfully moves this Honorable Court for an Order permitting the defense to send to the arresting officer the attached interrogatories to be filled out and then filed with the Clerk of Court.