Michigan CSC Case: Pretrial Conference, Pretrial Court Appearances and Discovery
Pretrial conferences, sometimes known as scheduling conferences, are held before trial and are an opportunity for the prosecutor to meet with the defense attorney. These meetings are used to discuss possible plea negotiations and other issues that come up before trial. Many cases are resolved using guilty pleas, and this meeting is an opportunity for both attorneys to discuss the possible pros and cons of heading to trial to determine whether a guilty plea is appropriate.
Pretrial Disputes in a CSC Case
Pretrial court appearances occur when the judge is called upon to resolve various pretrial disputes, such as whether certain evidence will be admissible at trial, or whether the case can be continued in order to give the defense attorney more time to prepare. The defendant must attend all pretrial proceedings. Guilty plea hearings also take place at pretrial court appearances, where the defendant is given the opportunity to change his plea from not guilty to guilty. This is typically done after making some kind of agreement with the prosecuting attorney.
Kinds of Discovery in Michigan CSC Cases
There are three types of discovery in Michigan criminal cases: mandatory disclosure by both parties, mandatory discovery known to the prosecutor, and prohibited discovery.
Mandatory disclosures are types of evidence that must be disclosed as soon as a party to a criminal case makes a request for the disclosures. Each side of the criminal case must provide the other side of the criminal case with the information. Mandatory disclosures include: the names and addresses of all witnesses whom the party may call at trial; any written or recorded statement which pertains to the case by a lay witness whom the party may call at trial; certain information about expert witnesses who may be called at trial, including that expert witness’s CV or resume and either the expert’s report or a written description of the proposed expert testimony, the expert’s opinion, and the underlying basis for that opinion; any criminal record that the party may use at trial to impeach a witness; a description or list of criminal convictions, known by either attorney, of any witness whom the party may call at trial; and a description of all tangible physical evidence that may be used a trial. One exception to this rule is that a defendant is not obligated to provide the defendant’s own statement to the prosecuting attorney. Additionally, the party planning to introduce tangible physical evidence at trial must provide the opposing part with an opportunity to inspect and make copies of the tangible physical evidence.
Mandatory discovery of information known to the prosecuting attorney requires prosecutors to provide the defendant with the following information: any exculpatory or evidence known to the prosecuting attorney; any police report or interrogation records concerning the case; written or recorded statements by a defendant, co-defendant, or accomplice pertaining to the case, even if that person will not be called as a witness at trial; any search or seizure affidavit, warrant, and return that has a connection to the case; and any plea agreement, grant of immunity, or other agreement for testimony in connection with the case.
Prohibited discovery includes information that the defendant does not have a right to access or discover, including evidence that is protected from disclosure by the constitution or by rule of privilege. Attorney work-product is privileged information, which means it is not subject to the discovery rules. Attorney work-product includes any notes that reflect the attorney’s mental impressions or trial strategies. The defendant may be able to compel discovery of such items if he can demonstrate a good-faith belief, grounded in articulable fact, that there is a reasonable probability that the records protected by the privilege are likely to contain material information necessary to his defense.
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