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Due Process – Exculpatory Evidence – Destruction of Notes by State’s Investigator

State v. Debra Noble, 2001 WI App 145, 629 N.W.2d 317, reversed, other groundsState v. Debra Noble, 2002 WI 64
For Noble: Jeff P. Brinckman

Issue: Whether a state investigator’s destruction of interview violated the defendant’s due process right to exculpatory evidence.

Holding:

¶17. A defendant’s right of pretrial access to exculpatory evidence needed to prepare a defense is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. State v. Greenwold, 181 Wis. 2d 881, 885, 512 N.W.2d 237 (Ct. App. 1994). The defendant’s due process rights are violated by the destruction of evidence if: (1) the evidence destroyed is apparently exculpatory and of such a nature that the defendant would be unable to obtain comparable evidence by other reasonably available means; or (2) if the evidence was potentially exculpatory and was destroyed in bad faith. Id. at 885-86.

¶18. Noble has not argued that Matthews destroyed his notes in bad faith, so she must demonstrate that the evidence they contained is apparently exculpatory and of such a nature that she could not obtain it by other reasonably available means. However, she offers no reasoning to support her claim that Matthews’ original notes were exculpatory other than the general assertion that the notes would have shown that she did not say what Matthews reported. … Therefore, we conclude that Noble has not demonstrated that the notes contained any apparently exculpatory evidence.

 

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