Do you know what was meant by these statements?
"dropping the charges" and "smaller quantum of prejudice"
The judge was speaking about how to balance the scales of fairness, in using those terms.
He had decided (unfortunately, but very properly imo) that it was essentially unfair for the defense to be presented with an impossible amount of evidence, AFTER the last minute (ie after the court's deadline for providing evidence).
By "quantum" he means "amount." By "prejudice" he means unfairness.
I know some are critical, but I think the judge is doing an admirable job in his ongoing decisions to try to keep this case from being overturned later, with all charges dismissed, due to a violation of defendant rights. It's a very small needle he has to thread, and unfortunately the prosecution isn't helping because of their sloppiness with discovery and deadlines.
No matter how much evidence you have, or how sure you are that the defendant is guilty, the prosecution MUST give them a fair trial, with full and timely access to ALL the evidence, so that they have fair and ample opportunity to mount a defense. Appeals courts are very sensitive to this issue, and Boyce is supremely conscious of the tightrope he is being forced to walk.
Boyce doesn't want to dismiss the case entirely, but his choices were really limited, in large part because the prosecution has NOT gotten their butt in gear, and the "speedy trial" issues don't give the judge an option to simply give the defense more time via a later court date.
Striking the death penalty is one reasonable accommodation here imo, as it does give more "time" to the defense without running past the speedy trial barrier. It frees up time for the defense that would otherwise have to be spent in preparing for the mini-trial that would follow (assuming she is found guilty) over the DP being applied. From some of the statements by the defense, I really think that potential (or perhaps "probable") mini-trial had been a significant focus for them, and they essentially just won it. Or maybe we should say that the prosecution just fumbled it away.
HOWEVER, one word of caution was provided here for the prosecution. While offering this immediate remedy, the judge hasn't yet ruled on what to do about the evidence that was late (instead, he said he can, and might, exclude some of it), nor is he working with the assumption that the late evidence includes exculpatory items of evidence (ie, evidence that would be favorable to the defense and tend to show Lori as not being guilty). Failing to turn over, or burying, exculpatory evidence is a "Brady violation" and is the kind of thing that gets a case tossed. For now, and until he might learn otherwise, Boyce has assumed that no Brady violations have happened.
IMO from what he was saying, it's still possible
1 some late evidence may eventually be excluded -- it sounded like Boyce left the door ajar for the defense to make item-by-item objections to such pieces if/when they are entered in the trial.
2 bigger penalties could be applied later IF the defense discovers exculpatory evidence in the late pile of evidence handed over in a mountain for them to sift through.
JMO on listening to and weighing the judge's full ruling