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Published on Friday, March 17, 2017

Changes pushed on how courts handle informant testimony

SB 5038 would change how prosecutors handle testimony from informants during court proceedings. The bill would:

  • Require a prosecutor to give the defendant advance notice and specific detailed information about any potential informant testimony.
  • Require the prosecutor's disclosure before the informant's testimony or statements are offered in evidence.
  • Direct the prosecutor to provide the required disclosures as soon as possible but no later than 14 days prior to offering informant testimony in evidence at trial or any other criminal proceeding.
  • Define informant, benefit, and statement for purposes of the prosecutor's required disclosures.
  • Authorize court-ordered remedies for the defendant for a prosecutor who fails a timely disclosure.

The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys testified with concerns because the bill too broadly defines informant and could include non-informant witnesses. Additionally, there are concerns that the bill requires prosecutors and law enforcement to be aware of and report on investigations in other jurisdictions that they have no ability to track.

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