Criminal Case Dismissed after Cops Lose Video

On August 16, 2013 in the case of State v. Merriman, the Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed indictments against a defendant after the McMinnville Police Department lost the video of her traffic stop and subsequent arrest. Soon retiring Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder delivered the opinion of the Court ruling that the loss of the video taken by the police violated the defendant's rights and that the consequence of this loss was the dismissal of the criminal cases against her.

A McMinnville mother had been charged with Driving under the Influence of an Intoxicant accompanied by a child under the age of eighteen, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license and violation of the implied consent law. The police claimed that they lost the video of the offending driving action and the video of the defendant attempting the standard field sobriety tests. Two days before trial, the defense filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that the State failed to deliver exculpatory evidence to the defendant as required by State v. Ferguson. In State v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled that the loss of exculpatory or potentially exculpatory evidence by the State may violate a defendant's right to a fair trial.

The trial court of Warren County, Tennessee, ruled in favor of the defendant and dismissed the charges. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court and the Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed (agreed with) the Court of Appeals.

The significance of this case is that defense attorney's all know that when the video of a traffic stop does not support the State's case, the State will sometimes "lose" the video. This case prevents the State from continuing the prosecution when they lose or destroy evidence that could exonerate (be helpful) to the Defendant.

If you or someone you know has been unlawfully stopped for possession of drugs or DUI, call the Gold Law Firm. Our criminal defense attorneys will be glad to help you in your criminal case involving an illegal stop and false accusations.

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