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Leaving scene of fatal accident. State's failure to comply with discovery New Trial Needed

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | Sep 07, 2017 | 0 Comments

The trial court erred in failing to hold Richardson hearing after State introduced statement purportedly made by the Defendant to the State's forensic psychologist which was tantamount to an admission and which the State had not disclosed to defense during discovery.

Defense counsel's contemporary objection and motion for mistrial were sufficient to apprise the trial court of necessity of conducting inquiry. The presence of defense counsel during the interview with Defendant did not negate the necessity for Richardson hearing, as defense counsel argued that the Defendant never made the admission and that witness mischaracterized her statement.

Due to significant and prejudicial nature of testimony, it cannot be concluded that failure to conduct inquiry was harmless error. A new trial is required.

A Richardson hearing is a hearing to conduct an inquiry into the surrounding facts and circumstances of an alleged discovery violation. For example, a Richardson hearing might be requested because the State attempts to introduce evidence not included in its disclosures to the Defense. The court will attempt to determine whether discovery violations are inadvertent or willful, trivial or substantial, or affected the Defendant's ability to properly prepare for his or her case. The question of prejudice does not depend on whether the undisclosed evidence might have affected the outcome of the trial, but whether the violation affected the Defendant's ability to prepare.

About the Author

John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-five years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a prosecutor in Florida before going in to private practice and representing clients in three states.


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John P. Rutkowski, Attorney at Law, firm represents clients in the area of driving under the influence, boating under the influence, Criminal & Civil Traffic Offenses. Contact me today for a free telephone consultation.