Rule 206. Discovery

Rule 206. Discovery

(a)   Each juvenile court shall ensure that the parties in delinquent and unruly proceedings have access to any discovery materials consistent with Rule 16 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(b)  An informal request for discovery is encouraged, but if the parties cannot agree as to discovery, then a formal discovery request shall be made.

Advisory Commission Comments.

In drafting this rule, the Commission was concerned with potential burdens and delays that might be caused if existing criminal discovery methods were applied without modification to juvenile court proceedings. This does not preclude adoption by each court of local rules of procedure to implement the discovery mechanisms found in the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Commission emphasizes the mandate of Supreme Court Rule 18, which limits local rules to those “not inconsistent with . . . the Rules of Juvenile Procedure[.]”

State v. Willoughby, 594 S. W.2d 388 (Tenn. 1980) holds that discovery rules do not apply to preliminary examinations and hearings.  Therefore, this rule would not apply to any probable cause hearing in juvenile court with the caveat that this rule is not the exclusive procedure for obtaining discovery.  Please note that some discovery may be critical in a transfer hearing.  The Court should use its discretion in granting access to information necessary to defend or prosecute a transfer case. The state must disclose any exculpatory evidence to the child’s attorney per Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

If the parties cannot agree on discovery, then the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure shall be utilized to ensure that each side has access to discovery materials in each case. If a request for discovery is made on behalf of the child and the district attorney is not prosecuting the case, the person prosecuting the case must comply withRule 16 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Juvenile court practitioners are advised to fully acquaint themselves with Rule 16 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.