Davis v. Commissioner of Correction
Evidence of a lack of fingerprints found on the gun the petitioner allegedly possessed during his arrest was not considered exculpatory, in and of itself, or favorable, to be classified as material required to be disclosed under the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland. Travis Davis, sought in connection with an outstanding warrant, attempted to flee police and was shot when he pointed a loaded gun at an officer. Following a jury trial, Davis was convicted of crimes including attempt to commit assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a pistol. On direct appeal, his conviction was reversed, in part, on two charges including persistent dangerous felony offender charges. The court denied his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Davis had proceeded pro se at trial with habeas counsel, Raymond Rigat, as stand-by counsel. His amended second petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied. He appealed claiming, inter alia, that the court improperly rejected his claim of ineffective assistance by first habeas counsel, Rigat. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The petitioner unpersuasively argued that he was deprived of effective assistance by Rigat because counsel failed to conduct an adequate pretrial investigation and was unprepared for trial, compelling Davis to proceed pro se. The habeas court concluded that Rigat was adequately prepared and the petitioner presented no evidence to the contrary. The habeas court also properly determined that the petitioner failed to prove that the state suppressed evidence favorable to him in his underlying criminal trial in violation of Brady. The petitioner contended that an officer's report was exculpatory, or at least favorable to him, by stating that no fingerprints were found on the gun he allegedly possessed. Rigat testified at the second habeas trial that several witnesses testified at the criminal trial to seeing Davis with the gun and it was well known amongst most criminal lawyers that the lack of prints "doesn't mean that the suspect didn't possess the gun…" The Appellate Court agreed with the habeas court's finding that the lack of fingerprints was not in and of itself exculpatory and that the report was not favorable to the petitioner and could not be classified as Brady material.