Jencks Act Law and Legal Definition
The Jencks Act (“Act”) governs production of statements and reports of prosecution witnesses during federal criminal trials. The Act provides that a government prosecutor can be required to produce a verbatim statement or report made by a government witness or prospective government witness until a witness is testified. This Act is based on the principle that the material used in federal criminal prosecution in the U.S. is considered as evidence. The materials usually consists of documents relied upon by government witnesses who testify at trial. Typically, it may consist of police notes, memoranda, reports, summaries, letters or verbatim transcripts used by government agents or employees to testify at trial. Once the government witness testifies, upon a motion by a defendant, the courts generally requires the government to produce any statement of the witness in their possession relating to the subject matter.
The Act is the U.S. Congress’s response to the Supreme Court decision in Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657 (U.S. 1957). Where, the court established certain rules for the availability and production of statements of prosecution witnesses in federal criminal trials.