New client came in on Thanksgiving day after having been charged the night before with a DUI. She was the designated driver and was out with her sister who was the drinker. She gets stopped for an illegal U-Turn and is taken to the State Police Barracks that has a camera without audio in the breath test room. Now the way she looked that evening and her attempts to take the test were important since she could not provide a sufficient sample. She arrives at the barracks within an hour of the stop so her appearance and actions in the room are relevant. Was she steady on her feet, was she swaying, did she look DRUNK?
I call the Barracks while she is sitting here and leave a message for the trooper in charge of preserving and copying the video. After I do not get a return call I call again. The trooper says he is not the “one” but he forwarded it to the correct trooper. I leave a message for the “correct” trooper and get no response. I send him a Subpoena which he gives the “real correct trooper.” I get a letter from him telling me the tape is kept for 6 days and I am TOO LATE. Obviously, I am very very unhappy. I let the State know I intend to raise this at trial and send the prosecutor a copy of my email to the State Police about preserving the tape and the phone calls.
I ask the Judge to either dismiss the DUIs or give me a favorable inference, that if he saw the video he would find that she looked fine and there was no visible evidence of impairment. I know the dismissal is not happening, but the inference was a no brainer as I had another judge do it a few months ago. The client also tells me a Baltimore County Police Officer backed up the Trooper and he had a Body Cam. There is no mention of that officer in the police report nor do I receive a Body Cam video.
The Trooper admits the existence of the Baltimore County officer but he didn’t know his name and has seen him around. So now I am down 2 videos. Well they tried to hide the peanut but it did not work. The Judge is kind to the Trooper and tells him it was a close case but the inference from the destruction of the video created a reasonable doubt. The Trooper was not happy but he was nearly as pissed as I was when they destroyed MY VIDEO. Let’s see how cavalier they are the next time I call.