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DUI Case Highlights from Paul Burglin San Francisco DUI Attorney - U.S. v. Tavera

Posted on in DUI

Some interesting cases relating to common California DUI defense issues have been published in the past few months. Some, such as the U.S. v. Tavera case below, are binding legal precedents that California courts must follow in drunk driving cases. Out-of-state decisions from state appellate courts are not binding on California Courts, but they are often looked to as persuasive precedent by trial judges presiding over DUI motions to suppress evidence and trial.

This is why it is important to have a Board-Certified DUI defense attorney in your corner who keeps abreast of these decisions, as they may impact your case.

Defendant was a passenger in a truck transporting concealed methamphetamine. He denied having any knowledge of it but was convicted nevertheless. His conviction was vacated when it was discovered after trial that the co-defendant driver had told the prosecutor during plea negotiations that Defendant had no knowledge of the drug conspiracy.

Citing Strickler v. Greene , 527 U.S. 263 (1999), the Court first determined there is a true Brady violation ( Brady v. Maryland , 373 U.S. 83 (1963)) requiring a new trial where (a) the subject evidence is favorable to the accused, either because it is exculpatory or it is impeaching; (b) the evidence was either willfully or inadvertently suppressed by the State; and (c) prejudice ensued from the suppression.

The Court then cited Banks v. Dretke , 540 U.S. 668 (2004) in rejecting the government’s contention that Defendant had a “due diligence"obligation to discover the exculpatory statement by asking the co-defendant if he had made any statements to law enforcement. Banks held that “[a] rule…declaring “prosecutor may hide, defendant must seek," is not tenable in a system constitutionally bound to accord defendants due process."

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