Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Minnesota DWI Lawyer Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is   State v. Addickes, (Minnesota Court of Appeals Unpublished Opinion issued October 15, 2013) which stands for the proposition that even though the DWI blood test sample was destroyed before it was inspected by the Defense, the BCA test result is still admissible unless the Defendant can prove the  blood sample contained exculpatory evidence and was destroyed "in bad faith".  Needless to say, the Defendant lost.

In Addickes, the Defendant was arrested on suspicion of DWI. While under arrest, he gave a blood sample that was tested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).  The test found his blood sample to have an alcohol concentration of .17. 

The Defendant's attorney served the prosecutor with a disclosure demand that included a request for all reports of “examinations, scientific tests, experiments or comparisons made in connection with the particular case.” The state responded on March 8, 2011, with a report on the BCA’s test of the blood sample. The report indicated that the sample would be destroyed on February 2, 2012, or 12 months after the test.  

On March 4, 2011, the Defendant's case was mistakenly dismissed. When the error was discovered on January 9, 2012, the district court ordered that the previous dismissal be vacated. Defendant's attorney called the BCA on March 22, 2012, to request access to the sample and was informed it had been destroyed on or about March 2, 2012.  Appellant then requested a contested omnibus hearing, claiming a due process violation as a result of the destruction of the blood sample and requesting suppression of the results of the blood test. After the hearing, the district court denied the Defendant's motion to suppress.  

On Appeal, the Court noted that in State v. Hawkinson, 829 N.W.2d. 367 (Minn. 2013), the Minnesota Supreme Court stated that in determining whether a blood test result should be suppressed, the courts are to look at two factors: 

(1)  Was the destroyed evidence exculpatory (i.e. favorable)  to the defense and;

(2)  Was the evidence destroyed in bad faith.

In the present case, the Addickes Court held that since the blood sample was not favorable evidence to the defense (as it contained an alcohol concentration level of .17) and the sample was destroyed after notice to the defense and pursuant to its regular practice, there was no due process violation and the test result was properly admitted at trial.

MORAL OF THE STORY: If you want to examine the state's evidence, you better do it in a timely fashion. So don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today!