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Maio Law was founded by Etobicoke Real Estate Lawyer, Domenic Maio, who has a law degree from the prestigious Bond University, Gold Coast. Whether you are looking for a Etobicoke law firm for real estate, family legal issues, criminal assault or wills legal matters, Domenic can help you.
Official Address: 300 N Queen St #106N, Etobicoke, ON M9C 5K4, Canada
As a leader in legal firms software applications, Law Firm Software has been serving attorneys and law agencies for bankruptcy software, estate planning and trust software.
Official Address: PO Box 93001, Phoenix, AZ 85070
It is a well-settled rule of criminal law that the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution requires that the prosecution disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense in all criminal cases. Wisconsin courts have long recognized this requirement. Although criminal appeal courts have frequently acknowledged the prosecutor’s duty to disclose exculpatory evidence in criminal cases, however, courts have been unwilling to require the police to preserve all items that might be of conceivable evidentiary significance in a criminal case. Along these lines, appellate courts have distinguished between evidence that is “potentially useful” and evidence that is “exculpatory.” The Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Wisconsin Supreme Court have adopted these standards as well. Because of the different standards for challenging the two types of evidence, the success of a motion to challenge the destruction of evidence frequently depends on whether the court labels the evidence “exculpatory” or merely “potentially exculpatory.”
When evidence is only potentially useful to the defense in a criminal case, a defendant is only entitled to relief if he shows bad faith in the police failure to preserve the potentially exculpatory evidence. Bad faith can only be shown if the officers were aware of the potentially exculpatory value of the evidence and the officers acted with official animus or made a conscious effort to suppress exculpatory evidence. Proving bad faith by the police is often difficult in a criminal case.
If the evidence that the police either failed to preserve or destroyed is actually exculpatory, rather than merely potentially exculpatory, the defendant does not need to prove bad faith by the police. The failure to preserve exculpatory evidence may entitle the defendant to dismissal of the criminal charge with prejudice. That is what happened in the Wisconsin criminal case of State v. Huggett.
The defendant in Huggett claimed self-defense to a murder charge. Prior to the shooting, Huggett received threatening phone messages and text messages from the alleged victim. After the threatening messages, the victim arrived at Huggett’s house, broke down the door and Huggett shot him. Huggett told the police officer who arrived at the scene that the alleged victim broke into his house and he thought that the alleged victim was going to kill him. Huggett also told the officer about the threatening voice mail messages and texts. The officer seized the phone, listened to the messages and arrested Huggett. The state preserved the text messages, but failed to preserve the voice mail messages. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice on due process grounds reasoning that the voice mails had “apparent” exculpatory value and the officer’s description and Huggett’s description of the voice mail messages was not comparable evidence sufficient to satisfy due process.
In Huggett, the state did not actually destroy the recorded messages (they just failed to preserve them) and there was no evidence that the state acted in bad faith. In light of this, the state argued for a less severe sanction, like a jury instruction that the jury should accept Huggett’s description of the threatening voice mail messages. The lack of bad faith and the lack of actual destruction of the evidence by the state, however, did not change the outcome. The Huggett Court reasoned that once evidence has apparent exculpatory value, the state has an affirmative duty to preserve it. When the state fails to perform its affirmative duty to preserve apparently exculpatory evidence, and comparable evidence is not available to the defendant, the remedy is dismissal with prejudice.