Nebraska Revised Statute 29-1912
Request by defendant to inspect and make copies of evidence; granted; when; findings; possibility of harm; effect.
(1) When a defendant is charged with a felony or when a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor or a violation of a city or village ordinance for which imprisonment is a possible penalty, he or she may request the court where the case is to be tried, at any time after the filing of the indictment, information, or complaint, to order the prosecuting attorney to permit the defendant to inspect and copy or photograph:
(a) The defendant's statement, if any. For purposes of this subdivision, statement includes any of the following which relate to the investigation of the underlying charge or charges in the case and which were developed or received by law enforcement agencies:
(i) Written or recorded statements;
(ii) Written summaries of oral statements; and
(iii) The substance of oral statements;
(b) The defendant's prior criminal record, if any;
(c) The defendant's recorded testimony before a grand jury;
(d) The names and addresses of witnesses on whose evidence the charge is based;
(e) The results and reports, in any form, of physical or mental examinations, and of scientific tests, or experiments made in connection with the particular case, or copies thereof;
(f) Documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects, or other tangible things of whatsoever kind or nature which could be used as evidence by the prosecuting authority; and
(g) Reports developed or received by law enforcement agencies when such reports directly relate to the investigation of the underlying charge or charges in the case.
(2) The court may issue such an order pursuant to the provisions of this section. In the exercise of its judicial discretion, the court shall consider, among other things, whether:
(a) The request is material to the preparation of the defense;
(b) The request is not made primarily for the purpose of harassing the prosecution or its witnesses;
(c) The request, if granted, would not unreasonably delay the trial of the offense and an earlier request by the defendant could not have reasonably been made;
(d) There is no substantial likelihood that the request, if granted, would preclude a just determination of the issues at the trial of the offense; or
(e) The request, if granted, would not result in the possibility of bodily harm to, or coercion of, witnesses.
(3) Whenever the court refuses to grant an order pursuant to the provisions of this section, it shall render its findings in writing together with the facts upon which the findings are based.
(4) Whenever the prosecuting attorney believes that the granting of an order under the provisions of this section will result in the possibility of bodily harm to witnesses or that witnesses will be coerced, the court may permit him or her to make such a showing in the form of a written statement to be inspected by the court alone. The statement shall be sealed and preserved in the records of the court to be made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal by the defendant.
- Laws 1969, c. 235, § 1, p. 867;
- Laws 1983, LB 110, § 1;
- Laws 2009, LB63, § 25;
- Laws 2010, LB771, § 17;
- Laws 2019, LB352, § 7;
- Laws 2019, LB496, § 4.
- Effective Date: September 1, 2019
- Note: The Revisor of Statutes has pursuant to section 49-769 correlated LB352, section 7, with LB496, section 4, to reflect all amendments.
3. Particular cases
Pursuant to this section, upon a defendant's proper request through discovery procedure, the State must disclose information which is material to the preparation of a defense to the charge against the defendant. In order that the defendant receive a fair trial, requested and material information must be disclosed to the defendant. State v. Gutierrez, 272 Neb. 995, 726 N.W.2d 542 (2007).
Section 29-1916 does not provide a basis for a trial court to order a defendant to produce defense exhibits when the defendant has not requested a discovery order pursuant to this section. State v. Kinney, 262 Neb. 812, 635 N.W.2d 449 (2001).
The Supreme Court has not established any court rules that would provide the State with a right of discovery in criminal cases. State v. Kinney, 262 Neb. 812, 635 N.W.2d 449 (2001).
Discovery in a criminal case is, in the absence of a constitutional requirement, controlled by either a statute or court rule. State v. Phelps, 241 Neb. 707, 490 N.W.2d 676 (1992).
Statutory design for discovery is based upon the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. State v. Brown, 214 Neb. 665, 335 N.W.2d 542 (1983).
This section governs what material a criminal defendant is entitled, as a matter of right, to discover. This section does not include information about prior criminal histories of witnesses, and discovery of that information is within the discretion of the trial court. State v. Dimmitt, 5 Neb. App. 451, 560 N.W.2d 498 (1997).
Under this section, whether a prosecutor's failure to disclose evidence results in prejudice depends on whether the information sought is material to the preparation of the defense, meaning that there is a strong indication that such information will play an important role in uncovering admissible evidence, aiding preparation of witnesses, corroborating testimony, or assisting impeachment or rebuttal. State v. Harris, 296 Neb. 317, 893 N.W.2d 440 (2017); State v. Castor, 257 Neb. 572, 599 N.W.2d 201 (1999); State v. Kula, 252 Neb. 471, 562 N.W.2d 717 (1997).
When a continuance will cure the prejudice caused by belated disclosure, a continuance should be requested by counsel and granted by the trial court. State v. Lotter, 255 Neb. 456, 586 N.W.2d 591 (1998).
The test for whether nondisclosure is prejudicial is whether the information sought is material to the preparation of the defense, meaning that there is a strong indication that such information will play an important role in uncovering admissible evidence, aiding preparation of witnesses, corroborating testimony, or assisting in impeachment or rebuttal. State v. Null, 247 Neb. 192, 526 N.W.2d 220 (1995).
3. Particular cases
An expert's oral, unrecorded opinions do not fall within the scope of subdivision (1)(e) of this section. State v. Parnell, 294 Neb. 551, 883 N.W.2d 652 (2016).
A trial court's erroneous failure to notify defense counsel of an ex parte, court-ordered examination prior to such examination and the subsequent delay in defense counsel's reception of the expert examiner's report until trial has commenced is harmless when defense counsel receives a copy of the expert examiner's report as soon as the state receives such a copy, and the defense has adequate opportunities to depose the expert examiner; hence, admission of the expert examiner's testimony and the denial of defense counsel's motions for continuance and a new trial are not reversible errors. State v. Larsen, 255 Neb. 532, 586 N.W.2d 641 (1998).
Prosecutor's nondisclosure of pathologist's opinion, given after examination of victim's injuries in photographs, that means used and manner in which victim's wounds were inflicted were not as victim claimed, denied defendant fair trial. State v. Brown, 214 Neb. 665, 335 N.W.2d 542 (1983).
A motion to produce addressed to the prosecuting attorney under this section is not an appropriate way for a defendant in a criminal case to procure handwriting exemplars of third parties unless it be alleged that such exemplars are in the possession of the prosecutor and are relevant evidence in the prosecution. State v. Davis, 203 Neb. 284, 278 N.W.2d 351 (1979).
At hearing on motion to produce hereunder, the trial court must determine by inquiry of the prosecuting attorney whether or not he has any item designated in the statute and in the motion to produce, and if the court refuses to order production, it shall render findings in writing with foundation facts. State v. Eskew, 192 Neb. 76, 218 N.W.2d 898 (1974).
Where defendant's counsel had knowledge of a polygraph examination and did not attempt discovery nor to subpoena the examiner before trial, the report was not newly discovered evidence. State v. Seger, 191 Neb. 760, 217 N.W.2d 828 (1974).
Where LSD tablet was used in test and graph was not preserved, but it was stipulated results of laboratory test, investigation, and experiments were produced and copies given to defendant and no specific request for graph was made in discovery motion, refusal of court to suppress evidence was not error. State v. Batchelor, 191 Neb. 148, 214 N.W.2d 276 (1974).
Tape recording of conversation between undercover agent and defendant made before he was accused or indicted are admissible when he had taken no steps to discover and has on cross-examination elicited testimony of the conversation from the witness. State v. Myers, 190 Neb. 146, 206 N.W.2d 851 (1973).
Denial of a request during trial for a recess to examine a statement of accomplice whose name had been endorsed on information as a witness was not an abuse of discretion. State v. McCown, 189 Neb. 495, 203 N.W.2d 445 (1973).
The State did not fail to comply with subsection (1)(e) of this section when it did not provide the defendant with a chromatogram graphic printout of his blood test result during discovery, where chromatogram had to be interpreted by a forensic scientist to determine its validity, the defendant was provided with the laboratory result during discovery, and the scientist was questioned about the chromatogram during trial. State v. Hashman, 20 Neb. App. 1, 815 N.W.2d 658 (2012).
A protective order limiting the defendant's and defense counsel's access to sensitive items in a sexual assault on a child case was properly granted. State v. Lovette, 15 Neb. App. 590, 733 N.W.2d 567 (2007).
Materiality is defined more broadly under this section than under the U.S. Constitution, and thus, evidence that is material under the U.S. Constitution is material under this section. State v. Lotter, 255 Neb. 456, 586 N.W.2d 591 (1998).