Discovery laws in New York could be under scrutiny in the state budget talks as organizations representing public defenders on Wednesday raised opposition to any potential amendments.
Prosecutors have called for changes as well as more money to handle the faster turning over of evidence to defense, pointing to how time consuming the recently passed provisions have become for their offices.
Discussions surrounding bail law changes have dominated the public discussions in Albany. The state budget now is nearly two weeks past its April 1 due date as Gov. Kathy Hochul is seeking an end to the "least restrictive" standard for when bail is considered.
But discovery laws have also come under criticism this year. The inital changes were meant to provide fast access to evidence for defense counsel in a bid to hasten trials. But prosecutors have pointed to the need for more staff as they comb through reams of evidence, which often include video captured by body cameras worn by police.
Hochul has proposed more money for district attorneys to hire more staff and expand their offices to handle the evidence handling changes.
The Legal Aid Society in a statement said the discussions over changes to the discovery law could go further than adding more funding.
"If passed, this proposal would upend the criminal legal system and further the disparate outcomes that our clients, Black and Latinx New Yorkers, would have to bear," the group said in a statement.
The organization added funding is a better option to help with the measure's implementation.
But the measure has come under criticism this year. Mayor Eric Adams listed the measure among the laws that need changing this year as he seeks to tackle crime in New York City.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares has been sharply critical of the law, blaming it for staff turnover in offices across the state.
"It complicates and clogs things, so the people who are truly out there, victims of crime, they want justice and they want justice rather quickly, all of that is delayed," he said in an interview earlier this year. "The discovery reforms that were passed is the single reform that has driven more prosecutors and police out the door," he added.