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In Michigan DUI Cases Prosecutors have Duty to Provide Evidence of your Innocence

Sep 2nd, 2016 DUI Defense DUI Trials

If you are charged with drunk driving in Michigan the prosecutor has a legal and ethical duty to provide your attorney with any evidence that might be helpful to your defense.  This includes things like police reports, witness statements, video recordings or chemical tests.

This legal obligation was affirmed in the recent USSC case of Weary v. Warden.[i]  Decided March 7, 2016, this case stands for the proposition that a prosecutor must disclose to a defendant all material evidence. Evidence qualifies as material when there is “‘any reasonable likelihood’” it could have “‘affected the judgment of the jury.’” To prevail on a claim that such evidence is material a defendant not show that he “more likely than not” would have been acquitted had the new evidence been admitted. He must show only that the new evidence is sufficient to “undermine confidence” in the verdict.

In this particular case, the defendant Michael Wearry was on death row in Louisiana. Wearry’s defense at trial rested on an alibi. He claimed that, at the time of the murder, he had been at a wedding reception in Baton Rouge, 40 miles away. Prosecutor argued in closing arguments that all three witnesses establishing the alibi were related to the defendant.

Wearry argued during state post-conviction proceedings that three categories of belatedly revealed information would have undermined the prosecution and materially aided Wearry’s defense at trial.  These included witness statements, evidence disparaging the credibly of a prosecutor’s witness and medical reports.

Additionally, Counsel representing Wearry on collateral review conducted an independent investigation. This investigation revealed many witnesses lacking any personal relationship with Wearry who would have been willing to corroborate his alibi had they been called at trial.

Based on this new evidence, Wearry alleged violations of his due process rights[ii], and of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Acknowledging that the State “probably ought to have” disclosed the withheld evidence, and that Wearry’s counsel provided “perhaps not the best defense that could have been rendered,” the post-conviction court denied relief.

The USSC in this case found “beyond doubt” that the new evidence undermined the verdict, and so they reversed the case remanded it back to the trial court.

Specifically, the court held that “[T]he suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”

If you have been charged with DUI in Michigan, and believe that positive evidence of your innocence exists, contact the Barone Defense Firm to discuss your case, and how we can help you obtain this evidence.

 


[i] 577 U. S. ____ (2016).

[ii] under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83 (1963)