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Property & Evidence

Property & Evidence

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Property & Evidence

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  1. Property & Evidence 2014

  2. Supreme Court • Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51 (1988). • 10 year old boy kidnapped and molested-timely analysis would have exonerated Youngblood • Lost Evidence must be exculpatory; • Defendant has no alternative means of demonstrating their innocence and; • Defendant must show there was “bad faith” on the part of law enforcement.

  3. Defendant claimed that the victim erred in identifying him and that if proper and timely tests had been performed on the evidence, defendant would have been exonerated. The Court reversed the judgment of the state court of appeals. The Court held that unless defendant could show bad faith on the part of the police, the failure to preserve potentially useful evidence did not constitute a denial of due process. The Court found that the delays in testing followed standard procedure and that tests were performed as soon as defendant was arrested. Witnesses from both sides testified as to what might have been shown by timely performed tests or by later tests performed on samples from the victim's clothing had they been properly refrigerated. The Court found that although there was a likelihood that the preserved materials would have enabled defendant to exonerate himself, that the State did not attempt to use any of these materials in its case-in-chief. The Court further held that the failure to refrigerate the clothing and to perform tests was at worst negligence, that none of the information was concealed from defendant, and that the evidence was available to defendant.

  4. Held: • (1) unless a criminal defendant can show bad faith on the part of the police, the state's failure to preserve potentially useful evidence--of which no more can be said than that it could have been subjected to tests, the results of which might have exonerated the defendant--does not constitute a violation of the due process clause of the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, and (2) accordingly, no due process violation occurred in the instant case, since (a) the failure of the police to refrigerate the boy's clothing and to perform tests on the semen samples could at worst be described as negligent, (b) none of this information was concealed from the defendant at trial, and (c) the evidence--such as it was--was made available to the defendant's expert, who declined to perform any tests on the samples.

  5. Illinois v. Fisher, 540 U.S. 544 (U.S. 2004) • Shortly after being charged, defendant requested discovery of all of the State's evidence, but defendant was released on bail, failed to appear in court, and remained a fugitive for over 10 years. During defendant's absence, the state, acting in accord with established procedures, destroyed the substance seized from defendant. Defendant asserted a denial of due process in the destruction of potentially useful evidence which could have exonerated defendant. The United States Supreme Court unanimously held, however, that no due process violation was shown in the absence of bad faith on the part of the State in destroying the evidence. The evidence was only potentially useful, rather than material exculpatory evidence which the State was required to produce regardless of good or bad faith. Further, it was undisputed that the State acted in good faith and in accord with normal practice in destroying the evidence, and the existence of defendant's pending discovery request did not eliminate the necessity of showing bad faith on the part of the State to establish a due process violation.

  6. Evidentiary Issues: • Duty to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence to Prosecutor • Prosecutor then decides what is exculpatory and what must be turned over to defendant. • Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). • Chain of Custody-Can Item be identified as the same item which was seized. • Narcotics etc. have no distinctive identifiers-document, document, document • Serial numbered items not as difficult-document

  7. Victim’s claims • In police departments across Texas, tens of thousands of rape kits have been sitting on the shelves of property storage rooms for years, the result of strained budgets, overworked crime labs and a law enforcement philosophy that rape kits are primarily useful as evidence if a stranger committed the assault. • In Houston, about 16,000 rape kits, some dating back decades, sit in the police department property “There’s a portion that are never tested,” she said. “We don’t have the resources right now to test every single” rape kit that comes into the department.

  8. Intake Process: • Documentation by seizing officer • Packaging-key to keeping things straight • Weapons safety • Secure area/limited access until turned over to property-evidence • Pass-thru lockers • Lockers-once closed: auto lock-recovery by property/evidence • Mail Box • Camera-recording of area

  9. Verification once passed to property-evidence • Property/Evidence officer to verify item/quantity reportedly seized is the item which is turned over to property/evidence • Paperwork compiled-item properly packaged-stored in accord with agency system • Bar-coding

  10. The Big 3: • Money • Guns • Drugs

  11. Money • New Smyrna police chief 'shocked' that cash was stolen from evidence room • May 17, 2013|By Susan Jacobson, Orlando Sentinel • The acting New Smyrna Beach police chief was "shocked" to discover that lax security procedures allowed someone to steal money from the department's evidence room, he said Friday. • A total of $1,220 is missing from two 2007 case currency bags and one 2010 case bag, Interim Chief Mike Brouillette said,

  12. Money • Who counts it? (particularly large amounts) • Is there a need to keep it in property room • Consider Bank- • Individual Deposits • Accurate Count • Deposit Slip-attach to file as well as property record • Upon return to an individual use withdrawal slip as part of documentation • If money forfeited transfer slip to agency forfeiture account

  13. Drugs and Money Ex-police employee guilty; Stole drugs and cash from evidence room the Commercial-Appeal [Memphis, TN] ^ | January 21, 2004 | Chris Conley  Posted on 1/21/2004 3:43:19 PM Ex-police employee guilty; Stole drugs and cash from evidence room" By Chris Conley January 21, 2004 When Kenneth W. Dansberry was running the Memphis police evidence room - and using his position to loot it of drugs and money - he grew so swamped with cash that stacks of it grew mold. Dansberry, 41, a former Police Department civilian employee, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to a wide array of drug conspiracy and money laundering charges.

  14. Narcotics • Consistent packaging • Separately vaulted-vault within the vault • Consider two-person access where resources allow i.e. double-keyed vault-takes conspiracy to remove drugs • Weights-going in-going out • Chain of Custody-document, document, document

  15. Guns • Cops: Former Davenport police employee stole gun from department • 9:27 p.m. EST, September 7, 2012|By Susan Jacobson, Orlando Sentinel • A former Davenport police evidence custodian was arrested Friday after investigators said she stole a gun from the agency.

  16. Guns • Unloaded and safely packaged • Separately vaulted where possible • Double-Key system

  17. Serological Evidence • Watch state laws i.e. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-28-70 • Preserve properly i.e. refrigeration/air drying/proper packaging---suggested practices for maintaining the sample without degradation • DNA • Avoid allegations of spoliation of evidence

  18. Security Issues Generally • Limited Access • Alarm • Recorded Video Surveillance-Motion activated

  19. Inspection and Audit • Inspections • Random Sampling on Regular Basis • High Risk- Big 3 Items • Audits • At minimum when there is change of personnel • Protects everyone • Percentage of Big 3 Items • Eg. CALEA sampling chart

  20. Get rid of anything that can go… • Key component is following case dispositions • Determine finality of case under state law • Once case hits finality-determine proper disposition • Does it go back to someone. i.e. self-defending gun owner • Does it get destroyed-contraband • Can it be used by law enforcement (state law) • Can it be auctioned (state law)

  21. Non-Evidentiary items • Safekeeping • Found Property • State Law on Property generally identify “abandoned property” to include property held by government for a set period of time with presumption of abandonment • Once abandoned-state law dictates how property will be disposed of. • Notice requirements • Time requirements