State v. Barnes
The balancing test from the 1984 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v Asherman was properly applied to determine whether the failure of the police to preserve audiotape evidence violated the defendant's right to due process of law under article first, §8 of the Connecticut Constitution. The West Haven police department conducted two controlled drug buys using an informant to purchase crack cocaine from Ketric Barnes. The informant wore a transmitter so officers could monitor her conversation and recordings were made of the conversation. Barnes was arrested. The audio recordings were lost. Neither the defendant nor the state had listened to the recordings. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him claiming that his state due process rights had been violated by the loss of evidence. The court applied Asherman's balancing test and denied the motion concluding that it was unknown exactly what was on the missing recordings or whether there was anything favorable to the defense. The court found that the defendant did not demonstrate bad faith on the part of police or prejudice that could not be cured by wide leeway given in cross-examination. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of criminal possession of a firearm, possession of narcotics and two counts each of sale of narcotics and sale of narcotics by a person who is not drug-dependent. On appeal, the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment concluding that the defendant failed to demonstrate that his right to due process of law under article first, §8, of the state constitution was violated by the failure of police to preserve the evidence and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to dismiss. The defendant was granted certification to appeal and appealed challenging the Appellate Court's conclusions. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. Because the Appellate Court's opinion fully addressed the arguments raised, it was adopted as a proper statement of the issues and applicable law. No further discussion was found warranted.