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Contact: Michael Avitzur
Director of Government Relations

"Delays in Providing Mandatory Discovery Do Not Justify Stopping Speedy Trial Clock," Says Boston Bar Association

In a recent amicus brief filed with the Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Rodrick James Taylor, the Boston Bar Association (BBA) makes the case that when the prosecution fails to turn over mandatory automatic discovery, resulting continuances do not necessarily stop the speedy-trial clock.

Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court on December 5. The BBA in its brief asks the court to resolve the tension between the requirement of Mass. R. Crim. P. 14 (a) that the Commonwealth produce certain categories of mandatory, automatic discovery, on the one hand, and the requirement of Mass. R. Crim. P. 36 (b) that defendants be brought to trial within one year (with only limited exceptions), on the other.

The brief further states that "where there is no dispute that the Commonwealth owes the defense mandatory discovery items, defendants should not be forced to choose between the procedural guaranties of automatic discovery and a speedy trial. Instead, defendants should be free to move to compel the production of outstanding mandatory discovery from the Commonwealth while at the same time objecting to the exclusion of further time that the Commonwealth may request for compliance."

The Boston Bar Association's brief was drafted on a pro bono basis by William M. Jay, Paul F. Ware Jr., Joshua M. Daniels, and Kevin Martin of Goodwin Procter.

The Boston Bar Association traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the nation’s second president. Its mission is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, serve the community at large and promote diversity and inclusion.