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RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A Practice Manual, 4th Edition
© John E. MacDonald
“Rule 16(i) provides sanctions for the failure of either party to comply with [Rule 16]. . [The court] may order such party to provide the discovery or inspection, grant a continuance, or prohibit the party from introducing in evidence the material which or testimony of a witness whose identity or statement was not disclosed, or it may enter such other order as it deems appropriate.’ The phrase “such other order as it deems appropriate’ makes the declaration of a mistrial an appropriate sanction. The imposition of any Rule-16 sanction is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial justice”
State v. Darcy, 442 A.2d 900, 902 (R.I. 1982).
State v. Musumeci, 717 A.2d 56 (R.I. 1998). The trial court’s dismissal of a marijuana delivery case for state discovery violations was an abuse of discretion. The defense failed to show substantial prejudice due to the state’s failure to turn over a police log. R.I.S.C. sustained the state’s appeal and remanded for retrial.
There is a difference between deliberate non-disclosure (Wyche, Quintal) and negligent non-disclosure (Coelho).
Dismissal of a case is still a remedy, but only in extreme cases.“Absent substantial prejudice and a showing that no other available discretionary measures can possibly neutralize the harmful effect . some other remedy or sanction (continuance, mistrial, evidence preclusion, reimbursement for attorney fees, referral of offending prosecutor) should generally be imposed – at least in the first instance – upon the court’s learning of a material discovery violation.” Id. at 63.
“.dismissal is an appropriate sanction only as a last resort and only when less drastic sanctions would be unlikely or ill suited to achieve compliance, to deter future violations of this kind, and to remedy any material prejudice to defendant.Id. at 63.
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