Lack of discovery sometimes leads to the image we see above. One of my major gripes with the criminal justice system is the limited discovery that is granted in criminal cases . In Part II of Criminal Discovery in Tennessee criminal law cases , we will cover Reports of Examinations and Tests  covered under Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure .

In today’s criminal trials ,  forensic evidence is taking center stage in the courtroom . From  DNA , tool mark evidence ,  blood alcohol reports , forensic evidence is critical to preparing a defense .

The government shall permit a defendant to inspect and copy or photograph the results or reports of physical or mental examinations , and of scientific tests or experiments .if :

  1. the item is within the state’s possession , custody , or control ;
  2. the district attorney knows or though due diligence could know the item exists ; and
  3. the item is material to preparing the defense or the state intends to use the item in it’s case in chief at trial.


Here is one common problem in drunk driving (DUI) cases . A defendant only gets the report . You get nada, zilch , and nothing on the tests and the procedure in how the sample was tested . You get a vanilla report without and supporting proof .The second out for the state is the claim is that is not in the posses ion , custody and control of the state . It’s in possession of law enforcement or some other agency .

Criminal defendants just want a level playing field .One area of reform is broadening the scope of discovery in Tennessee criminal cases .