Does the Notice of Alibi Rule Compel the Petitioner to Divulge Information Earlier Than Intended ?
In Williams v. Florida (399 US 78 ), the Supreme Court rejected a Fifth Amendment challenge to a "notice of alibi" law similar to that set forth in CPL 250.20.
The Supreme Court noted:
"At most, the notice of alibi rule only compelled petitioner to accelerate the timing of his disclosure, forcing him to divulge at an earlier date information that the petitioner from the beginning planned to divulge at trial. Nothing in the Fifth Amendment privilege entitles a defendant as a matter of constitutional right to await the end of the State's case before announcing the nature of his defense, any more than it entitles him to await the jury's verdict on the State's case-in-chief before deciding whether or not to take the stand himself." (Id., at 85.)
Three years later, in Wardius v. Oregon (412 US 470 ), the Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not preclude enforcement of "notice of alibi" rules either, provided that reciprocal discovery rights were given to defendants.
In addition, both Williams and Wardius make clear that, if provisions are made for reciprocal discovery, there is no constitutional impediment to granting such discovery on the prosecution's motion, rather than as reciprocal discovery following a defendant's request for the names and addresses of prosecution witnesses.