Prosecutors can use squad car video in DUI case, court says

A Cook County Appeals Court recently dealt a severe blow the defense in a drunk driving case. The case involves a man named Brandon Bailey who was arrested for drunk driving in 2011. The officer who arrested Bailey claimed that he was driving over 30 miles over the posted speed limit, made improper lane usage, and failed to signal in addition to driving while intoxicated.

During the discovery phase of the trial, Bailey requested the footage from the police car (in-squad video) which supposedly showed his stop and arrests. The state failed to provide the video in a timely manner so the trial court sanctioned the state by barring the video and anything it could have showed from trial.

The trial court also rescinded the summary suspension of Bailey’s driver’s license.

It appeared that Bailey would walk away from his criminal charges because the state was barred from presenting evidence including his field sobriety test and driving which could have been on the in-squad video. This harsh sentenced compelled the state to produce the video and ask the trial court to reverse the exclusion of the evidence.

The trial court judge was miffed at the state’s failure to produce the video in a timely manner and refused to overturn the evidence ban. The state appealed and an appeals court found that although the state was inexcusable in delaying giving evidence to the defense, the harsh result of keeping the sanctions in place was unwarranted.

The reasoning of the appeals court centered on the reason behind the discovery sanction order – the purpose of the order was to compel the state to produce the video, not punish it. The sanctions achieved that purpose, so keeping the evidence exclusion was unjustifiable. The court noted that a more appropriate solution was giving the defense an extension of time (continuance) in order to review the video.

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