Civil Procedure Keyed to Cound
Arizona v. Youngblood
Larry Youngblood (the “Respondent”) was convicted by a jury in Arizona of child molestation, sexual assault and kidnapping. The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed the Respondent’s conviction because the state did not preserve certain semen samples. The Respondent’s principal defense at trial was that the boy erred in identifying him as the perpetrator of the crime. “[B]oth a criminologist for the State and an expert witness for respondent testified as to what might have been shown by tests performed on the samples shortly after they were gathered, or by later tests performed on the samples from the boy’s clothing had the clothing been properly refrigerated. The court instructed the jury that if they found the State had destroyed or lost evidence, they might “infer that the true fact is against the State’s interest.” The Court of Appeals reversed the jury and found “when identity is an issue at trial and the police permit the destruction of evidence that could eliminate the defendant as the perpetrator, such loss is material to the defense and is a denial of due process.” Further, the court concluded without implying any bad faith on the part of the defense, that “on the basis of the expert testimony at trial that timely performance of tests with properly preserved semen samples could have produced results that might have completely exonerated respondent.”
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