In the recent case of People v. Michael Reid, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a conviction of OWI (operating while intoxicated) (MI COA #286784).
The defendant argued for a dismissal based upon several issues. One of the most interesting was an argument that the case should be dismissed due to a delay in prosecution of almost 2 years. The court ruled that there was no violation of due process because Reid was unable to show that there was “actual and substantial prejudice to the defendant’s right to a fair trial and an intent by the prosecution to gain a tactical advantage.”
The defendant also moved for a dismissal based upon destruction or spoliation of evidence. The defendant’s original blood sample and the in-car video from the original stop were destroyed by the Michigan State Police and the in-car video. The Court ruled against the defendant on these issues as well. The court indicated that the destruction of the video and the blood sample were not in bad faith and were just destroyed in the ordinary course of police procedure. The court noted that the blood was not destroyed until six months after the defendant was actually charged (yet before trial) and it was not requested by defense counsel prior to it’s destruction.
What is the moral of this case? Hire only the most experienced OWI attorney possible. I cannot second guess why the trial lawyer didn’t make a timely request of the blood or why the defendant did not make a timely request for the video before it was destroyed but these circumstances seem highly suspect. At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we always make a point, upon being hired on an OWI case, of requesting, subpoenaing and demanding all discovery immediately after being hired. We know from vast experience that any undue delay can be fatal to our client’s defense or make their case more difficult to handle. Our primary goal in an OWI case is to secure a dismissal of all charges when possible and a reduction of charges only when it has been conclusively determined that a dismissal is not possible.
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