Reasonable, articulable grounds may include, but are not limited to, the nature of the case, the specific course of conduct of one or more parties, threats or prior instances of witness tampering or intimidation, whether or not those instances resulted in criminal charges, whether the defendant is pro se, and any other relevant information.
The prosecuting attorney's certification shall identify the nondisclosed material.
Ohio. Crim. R. 16
Effective:July 1, 1973; amended effective July 1, 2010;July 1, 2016; amended April 24, 2019, effective July 1, 2019.
Proposed Staff Notes (2019 Amendment) Crim.R. 16(L) Section (L)(4) was added to comply with the 2017 amendment to Article I, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution, also known as Marsy's Law. Staff Notes (July 1, 2016 Amendment) In State v. Athon, 2013-Ohio-1956, the Court addressed the question of when a request of discovery by a criminal defendant triggers reciprocal discovery obligations under Crim.R. 16(H). The amendment seeks to put into effect the rule announced by the Court in Athon, and articulates a standard designed to allow defense counsel to be able to determine, at the time of filing a public records request, whether that request would trigger reciprocal discovery. Staff Notes (July 1, 2010 Amendments) Division (A): Purpose, Scope and Reciprocity The purpose of the revisions to Criminal Rule 16 is to provide for a just determination of criminal proceedings and to secure the fair, impartial, and speedy administration of justice through the expanded scope of materials to be exchanged between the parties. Nothing in this rule shall inhibit the parties from exchanging greater discovery beyond the scope of this rule. The rule accelerates the timing of the exchange of materials, and expands the reciprocal duties in the exchange of materials. The limitations on disclosure permitted under this rule are believed to apply to the minority of criminal cases. The new rule balances a defendant's constitutional rights with the community's compelling interest in a thorough, effective, and just prosecution of criminal acts. The Ohio criminal defense bar, by and through the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and prosecutors, by and through the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, jointly drafted the rule and submitted committee notes to the Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure discussed, modified, and adopted the notes submitted in developing these staff notes. Division (B): Discovery: Right To Copy or Photograph This division expands the State's duty to disclose materials and information beyond what was required under the prior rule. All disclosures must be made prior to trial. This division also requires the materials to be copied or photographed as opposed to inspection as permitted under the prior rule. Subject to several exceptions, the State must provide pretrial disclosure of all materials as listed in the enumerated divisions. Division (C): Prosecuting Attorney's Designation of "Counsel Only" Materials The State is empowered to limit dissemination of sensitive materials to defense counsel and agents thereof in certain instances. Documents marked as "Counsel Only" may be orally interpreted to the Defendant, or to counsel's agents and employees, but not shown or disseminated to other persons. The rule recognizes that defense counsel bears a duty as an officer of the court to physically retain "Counsel Only" material, and to limit its dissemination. Counsel's duty to the client is not implicated, since the rule expressly allows oral communication of the nature of the "Counsel Only" material. Division (D): Prosecuting Attorney's Certification of Nondisclosure This division provides a means to prevent disclosure of items or materials for limited reasons. The prosecution must be able to place reasonable limits on dissemination to preserve testimony and evidence from tampering or intimidation, and certain other enumerated purposes. The new rule explicitly recognizes that it is the prosecution's duty to assess the danger to witnesses and victims, and the need to protect those witnesses and victims by controlling the early disclosure of certain material, subject to judicial review. A nondisclosure must be for one of the reasons enumerated in the rule, and must be certified in writing to the court. The certification need not disclose the contents or meaning of the nondisclosed material, but must describe it with sufficient particularity to identify it during judicial review as described in division (F). The certification process recognizes the unique nature of sex crimes against children. In the event of a certification of nondisclosure, defense counsel will have the right to inspect the statement no later than the seven-day review hearing provided in subsection (F), which is an improvement from the prior Criminal Rule 16(B)(1)(g). Finally, the rule recognizes that not every eventuality can be anticipated in the text of a rule, and allows nondisclosure in the interest of justice. Division (E): Right of Inspection in Cases of Sexual Assault This division recognizes the intensely personal nature of a sexual assault, and provides a special mechanism for discovery in such cases. It represents an exception to division (B). The compromise between the interests in the privacy and dignity of the victim are balanced against the right of the defendant to a thorough review of the State's evidence by permitting inspection, but not copying, of certain materials. Upon motion of the defendant, the court may, in its discretion, permit these materials to be provided under seal to defense counsel and the defendant's expert. In cases involving the sexual abuse of a child under the age of 13, upon motion and for good cause shown, the trial court may order dissemination of the child's statement under seal and pursuant to protective order to defense counsel and the defendant's expert. This provision facilitates meaningful communication between defense counsel and the defense expert, and to permit timely compliance with division (K) of the rule. Division (E)(2) is intended to give sufficient time for an expert to evaluate the statement, and also to permit defense counsel to consult with the expert on the content of the statement and issues related to it. This division is designed to provide an exception to the nondisclosure procedure sufficient to permit the expert and defense counsel to effectively evaluate the statement. The protective order shall apply to defense counsel and defendant's experts and agents. Division (F): Review of Prosecuting Attorney's Certification of Non-Disclosure This division provides for judicial review at the trial court level of a prosecutor's certification of nondisclosure. As in many other executive branch decisions the standard for review, subject to constitutional protections, is an abuse of discretion - that is, was the prosecutor's decision unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious? The prosecution of a case is an executive function. The rule's nondisclosure provision is a tool to ensure the prosecutor is able to fulfill that executive function. The prosecutor should possess extensive knowledge about a case, including matters not properly admissible in evidence but highly relevant to the safety of the victim, witnesses, or community. Accordingly, the rule vests in the prosecutor the authority for seeking protection by the nondisclosure, and deference when making a good faith decision about unpredictable prospective human behavior. The review is conducted in camera on the objective criteria set out in division (D), seven days prior to trial, with defense counsel participating. If the Court finds an abuse of discretion, the material must be immediately disclosed to defense counsel. If the Court does not find an abuse of discretion, the material must nonetheless be disclosed no later than the commencement of trial. Further judicial review is provided by giving the prosecutor a right to an interlocutory appeal of an order of disclosure as provided for in Criminal Rule 12(K), which is amended to accommodate that process. Upon motion of the State, the certification of nondisclosure or "Counsel Only" designation is reviewable by the trial judge in the in camera proceeding. The preferred practice is to record or transcribe the in camera review to preserve any issues for appeal and sealed to preserve the confidential nature of the information. The in camera review is set seven days prior to trial so that it is, in essence, the end of the trial preparation stage. There was substantial debate regarding the time for this review. Seven days provides adequate opportunity for the defense to prepare for trial and respond to the content of any nondisclosed material. The protective purpose of this process would be destroyed if courts routinely granted continuances of a trial date after conducting the seven-day nondisclosure review. The Commission anticipated that continuances of trial dates would occur only in limited circumstances. Division (F)(4) seeks to protect victims of sexual assault who are still in their tender years. Division (G): Perpetuation of Testimony This division provides that if after judicial review the Court orders disclosure of evidence, the prosecutor upon motion to the Court is given a right to perpetuate testimony in a pretrial hearing as set forth in the subsection. Division (H): Discovery: Right to Copy or Photograph The previous rule allowed for disclosure of specified relevant evidence in the possession of defense counsel to the State upon the State's motion. This division expands defense counsel's duty to disclose materials and information beyond what was required under the prior rule. In this division a reciprocal duty of disclosure now arises upon defense counsel's motion for discovery without further demand from the State. This division requires the materials to be copied or photographed, as opposed to the prior rule that only allowed for inspection by the State. Subject to several exceptions covered in division (J), defense counsel must provide pretrial disclosure of materials as listed in the enumerated subsections. This division seeks to define the defense counsel's reciprocal duty of disclosure while respecting the constitutional and ethical obligations required in representing a client. For the first time, defense counsel has a duty to provide the State with evidence that tends to support innocence or alibi. This allows the State to properly assess its case, and re-evaluate the prosecution. The Commission believes this provision will facilitate meaningful plea negotiation and just resolution. Division (I): Witness List This division imposes an equal duty on each party to disclose the list of witnesses that will be called at trial. It prohibits counsel from commenting on the witness lists but does not prohibit the commenting upon the absence or presence of a witness relevant to the proceeding. See, State v. Hannah, 54 Ohio St.2d 84, 374 N.E.2d 1359 (1978). Division (J): Information Not Subject to Disclosure This division clarifies what information is not subject to disclosure by either party for reasons of confidentiality, privilege, or due to their classification as documents determined to be work product. This division also references that the disclosure or nondisclosure of grand jury testimony is governed by Rule 6 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Division (K): Expert Witnesses; Reports The division requires disclosure of the expert witness's written report as detailed in the division no later than twenty-one days prior to trial. Failure to comply with the rule precludes the expert witness from testifying during trial. This prevents either party from avoiding pretrial disclosure of the substance of expert witness's testimony by not requesting a written report from the expert, or not seeking introduction of a report. This division does not require written reports of consulting experts who are not being called as witnesses. Division (L): Regulation of Discovery The trial court continues to retain discretion to ensure that the provisions of the rule are followed. This discretion protects the integrity of the criminal justice process while protecting the rights of the defendants, witnesses, victims, and society at large. In cases in which a defendant initially proceeds pro se, the trial court may regulate the exchange of discoverable material to accommodate the absence of defense counsel. Said exchange must be consistent with and is not to exceed the scope of the rule. In cases in which the attorney-client relationship is terminated prior to trial for any purpose, any material designated "Counsel Only" or limited in dissemination by protective order must be returned to the State. Any work product derived from such material shall not be provided to the defendant. The provisions of (L)(2) and (L)(3) are designed to give the court greater authority to regulate discovery in cases of a pro se defendant and addresses the problems that could arise if a defendant terminates the employment of his attorney and then demands everything in the attorney's file. This could frustrate the protections built into the rule to avoid release of material directly to the defendant in some cases. Section (M): Time of Motions This division requires timely compliance with all provisions of this rule subject to judicial review. Adherence to the requirements of this division will help to ensure the fair administration of justice.