A very recent opinion from the Third District Court of Appeals merits some discussion. The court has ruled that the rules governing discovery in criminal cases require strict compliance (this case involved Florida’s Rules of Juvenile Procedures but the Criminal Rule counterpart is identical). In TJ v. State, (Fla. 3rd DCA, No. 3D10-461, March 30, 2011), two days before the adjudicatory hearing (trial), the State filed an Amended Witness List listing, for the first time, two new witnesses. The State argued that the late notice constituted harmless error because the names had been included in police reports provided earlier. The Third DCA rejected this argument, holding that “strict requirement of listing the names of “A” witnesses is not satisfied by having the names included in reports as was argued by the State.” Id.
The State of Florida routinely includes language in their discovery responses attempting to incorporate by reference the name of all witnesses listed in police reports. Given this opinion, such language does not satisfy the strict compliance requirement of Florida’s discovery rules.
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