Open-File Discovery: A Plea for Transparent Plea-Bargaining
Volume 92, No. 2, Winter 2020
By Sophia Waldstein [PDF]

Open-file discovery, wherein defendants are entitled to all nonprivileged information in the prosecutor’s file regarding their cases, increases defendants’ bargaining power by reducing the uncertainties about trial risks. Pre-plea access to discovery provides defendants a more complete picture of the case against them so that they can more accurately calculate the benefit and risk of accepting a plea bargain. Open-file discovery expands the scope of a defendant’s own routes for investigation while reducing opportunities for police and prosecutorial misconduct. Following the example of open-file jurisdictions, this Comment advocates for the modification of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure to mandate open-file discovery from the time of arrest as a remedy to the trial penalty and to facilitate fair, accurate, and transparent criminal proceedings.

Sophia Waldstein is a J.D. Candidate, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2020.