DUI Cases: Discovery Is Not Always a Straightforward Process
Did you know that prosecutors in Mendocino County, Sonoma County and Lake County may have been trained to stonewall discovery in DUI cases? Although the California Penal Code contains provisions requiring prosecutors to provide all potentially “exculpatory” evidence to the defense, prosecutors are often trained to provide a set of pre-written discovery responses to the defense, regardless of the facts of the case.
For example, in breath test cases, when asked to provide engineering drawings of test instruments, prosecutors may be trained to respond that “the prosecutor cannot be coerced to gather evidence for the defense.” The same response may be provided to requests for written data supplied by the manufacturer or data that has been collected by public agencies.
DUI Cases and Discovery
When asked for maintenance history of the breath machine used, prosecutors may have been trained to object that the request is “completely irrelevant.”
When asked for instructional manuals for the machine, prosecutors may have been trained to make the defense get this information from the manufacturer.
When asked for comparative tests by the department of health, prosecutors may have been trained to object that this evidence is “totally irrelevant” and to require the defense to get this information directly from the department of health.
When asked for results of other breath tests, prosecutors may have been trained to object that this evidence is “totally irrelevant” and that disclosure would violate the privacy rights of those tested.
Prosecutors may have been trained to object that calibration data is “totally irrelevant.”
If asked for samples of calibration or control solutions, prosecutors may have been trained to object that “there are no cases requiring this information to be saved or produced.”
Prosecutors may have also been trained to make arguments that discovery materials cannot be produced because they are in possession of other agencies, such as police departments, crime laboratories or state health agencies.
However, the California Supreme Court has stated that if discoverable information is not actually in the possession of the prosecution, then the prosecution is required to make diligent and good faith efforts to obtain and make available to the defense pertinent information and materials possessed by other agencies within the criminal justice system. The California Supreme Court has also stated the following:
“… The scope of this disclosure extends beyond the contents of the prosecutor’s case file and encompasses the duty to ascertain as well as divulge “any favorable evidence known to the others acting on the government’s behalf …” Courts have thus consistently ‘declined to ‘draw a distinction between different agencies under the same government, focusing instead upon the “prosecution team” which includes both investigative and prosecutorial personnel.’ ”
A contrary holding would enable the prosecutor ‘to avoid disclosure of evidence by the simple expedient of leaving relevant evidence to repose in the hands of another agency while utilizing his access to it in preparing his case for trial’ … The prosecutor’s office is an entity and as such it is the spokesman for the Government. As a concomitant of this duty, any favorable evidence known to the others acting on the government’s behalf is imputed to the prosecution. “The individual prosecutor is presumed to have knowledge of all information gathered in connection with the government’s investigation.”
It is important, during the trial preparation process, that the person who represents you during your DUI defense be aware of your rights to discovery, and have the practical know-how to be able to obtain the evidence needed to marshal your defense. At Beck Law, P.C. we have experienced attorneys who know how to deal with prosecutors who are reluctant to provide the information necessary to defend your DUI case.
You can rest assured that our attorneys will thoroughly prepare and obtain the necessary evidence to maximize your probability of prevailing if your case goes to trial. If you are arrested in Lake, Mendocino, or Sonoma County for DUI, Contact Us for a consultation in order to learn what options you have to prepare a comprehensive defense.