Discovery is the process by which a prosecutor, court investigator, judge and defendant share information. The purpose of discovery is to eliminate "trial by surprise", increase efficiency in court proceedings by focusing the trial on the factual disputes between parties, and produce fairer and more accurate outcomes.
Discovery in Civil Law Systems
Discovery in Common Law Systems
Prior to the 1930s, pre-trial discovery was rarely ordered by the courts and only came about by a process of mutual agreement between the prosecution and the criminal defense attorney. However, after the 1930s many states began to fashion discovery statutes which provided for compulsory discovery measures. These statutes, which borrowed heavily from civil law discovery procedures,