Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Illinois Supreme Court Confirms Squad Car Video from DUI Arrest is Discoverable Under Schmidt

For attorneys working in misdemeanor courtrooms, discovery is always an amorphous concept. Unlike felony discovery, which follow Illinois Supreme Court Rules 411-417, misdemeanor discovery is limited to a few statutes and due process requirements. In People v. Kladis, 2011 IL 110920, the Illinois Supreme Court directly addressed whether squad car videos are discoverable by the defendant in a DUI proceeding.

In Kladis, the defendant made a written notice five days after her DUI arrest. The request included the squad car video from the related stop. At her first appearance, the defendant also made an oral request for the squad car video. Almost 45 days after the DUI arrest, the state tendered a letter to the defendant noting the squad car video had been destroyed pursuant to departmental policy, which automatically deleted videos 30 days after their creation.

The trial judge sanctioned the state for the destruction of the squad car video. As a sanction, the trial judge would not let the officer testify about the occurrence during which the video was running.

In its ruling, the court looked to People v. Schmidt, 56 Ill.2d 572 (1974) and noted that defendant's are entitled to the following materials:
  1. List of witnesses. 725 ILCS 5/114-9.
  2. Written confessions and witnesses who witnessed written or oral confessions of defendant. 725 ILCS 5/114-10.
  3. Exculpatory evidence. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
  4. Reports prepared by the prosecution's witnesses for impeachment purposes. People v. Cagle, 41 Ill.2d 528 (1969).

In Kladis, the Illinois Supreme Court added squad car videos to discoverable items under Schmidt. 2011 IL 110920 ¶ 28. In so holding, the Court noted that squad car videos further the courts' truth-seeking process. Id. Squad car videos are an "integral part" of traffic arrests, and they "objectively document[] what takes place." 2011 IL 110920 ¶ 29. They both help the state prove their case and help defendants decide to take pleas or litigate their claims of innocence.

For attorneys practicing in these courtrooms, they must make these demands for videos early and often—create a record by filing a motion for discovery, issue a subpoena to the arresting agency, and make a demand on the record for these materials.

No comments: