Jason B. v. Commissioner of Correction
In the 1995 case of State v. Morales, the Connecticut Supreme Court determined that article first, §8 of the Connecticut constitution requires a balancing test rather than a showing of bad faith, referred to as the Asherman test from the 1984 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v. Asherman. Jason B. was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree and unlawful restraint for acts against his former wife. During trial, Jason testified that the sexual relations were consensual. The victim testified that during the incident, Jason forced her to smoke a marijuana cigarette and that she gave the cigarette remains to the police. The police destroyed the cigarette. Jason's conviction was upheld on appeal. He filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus claiming, relevantly, that the destruction of the cigarette was a due process violation because he did not have the opportunity to test the cigarette. The habeas court denied the habeas petition but granted certification to appeal. Jason appealed claiming that the court erred in denying his claim that his right to due process under article first, §8 of the state constitution was violated when the police destroyed the potentially exculpatory evidence. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. Applying the Asherman test, the Appellate Court first concluded that the cigarette was not material. The question for the jury was whether the victim was sexually assaulted. The presence, or lack, of DNA on the cigarette, would not have been material to the case, nor would it have been material if the cigarette proved to contain something other than marijuana. Secondly, there was no likelihood that the jury or a witness would have had a mistaken interpretation of the missing evidence. Third, the petitioner conceded that nothing in the record suggested that the police acted in bad faith or with an improper motive in destroying the cigarette. Finally, the petitioner failed to demonstrate undue prejudice. Although he argued that he was prejudiced by the missing evidence because he could have used it to impeach the victim's testimony depending on the DNA results of the cigarette and whether it was, in fact, marijuana, the Appellate Court agreed with the habeas court that the results of any testing would not have established anything exculpatory.