Criminal defendant has no right to review discovery

A case was announced May 10, 2012 by the Court of Appeals that adopted the view expressed in the title, that a criminal defendant has no right to unfettered access to discovery materials, and an attorney can limit the accused's access to those materials.  People v. Ryan Krueger, May 10, 2012.  The court justified this decision by stating, . . . allowing a defendant unfettered access to discovery materials could create friction between the defendant and his attorney. The defendant could become focused on information that counsel believes to be relatively unimportant, making counsel’s trial preparation more difficult. Davison, 686 N.E.2d at 1236. Similarly, a defendant would be more likely toquestion his attorney’s strategic decisions, with little or no justification, thereby undermining the attorney-client relationship. Id. And convicted defendants could assert postconviction claims of ineffective assistance of counsel based on the alleged failure to share discovery materials, which could require hearings in a large number of cases because communications between defendants and their attorneys are almost always private.

The court repeatedly cites to another case from Illinois, People v. Davison, 686 N.E.2d 1231, 1236 (Ill. App. Ct. 1997) (discussing numerous problems which could arise were a defendant entitled to review discovery materials on request).  The court indicated there was very little boundary for trial counsel, indicating that a conflict of interest would not arise if the attorney believed it was in the client's interest to view on select portions of discovery.