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Maryland substantially amends criminal discovery rules

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Image from Maryland State Archives.

To those practicing criminal defense in Maryland: Generally effective July 1, 2008 (see the Court of Appeals’ implementing Order), the District Court and Circuit Court will have significantly updated discovery rules, as designated in the following links to Maryland Rules 4-262, 4-263, and 4-301.

The Court of Appeals’ order implementing the foregoing amended discovery rules provides that said amendments will be effective for “all actions commenced on or after July 1, 2008, and insofar as practicable, to all actions then pending.”

Among the foregoing rules changes that are particularly noteworthy, the rules governing jury trial demands from District Court will take the following two tracks, pursuant to Md. Rule 4-301(c): Defendants will only get the benefit of the more extensive Circuit Court discovery rules by filing a written jury trial demand at least fifteen days before the scheduled trial date, unless ordered by the court or agreed by the parties to file the demand during a shorter time frame. All other jury trial demands from District Court will be governed by the District Court criminal discovery rules.

Based on the foregoing discovery rule amendments, it is important for criminal defense lawyers to update their Maryland discovery request language in consonance with the rules changes. For pending District Court criminal discovery requests that do not already track the discovery rule amendments, it ordinarily will be advisable to file amended discovery requests that track the new rules. For pending Circuit Court cases, the same approach generally will be adviseable; however, because the Circuit Court discovery rules impose substantially extra discovery disclosures for the defense, any amended discovery requests by the defense in Circuit Court might need to be specially tailored to the particular case, rather than being in boilerplate language. Jon Katz.