In State v. Dingman, the WA Court of Appeals Court held the State is obligated to disclose all tangible objects in its possession which were obtained from or belonged to the defendant at the time of arrest.
Here, the authorities seized Mr. Dingman’s computers while investigating him for Theft and Money Laundering. The State created mirror image copies of the computers’ hard drives using a program called EnCase. Dingman asked for direct access to his computer. The Court refused, and instead ordered copies be provided using Encase, a program the defense neither had not knew how to use.
Applying court rules/procedures, the WA Court of Appeals Court held the State is obligated to disclose all tangible objects in its possession which were obtained from or belonged to the defendant. The computer hard drives were tangible objects obtained from the defendant. Defense counsel should be allowed to examine the hard drives. Therefore, it was error not to give the defense access to the hard drives.
My Opinion? Great decision. Division II gave an excellent decision regarding the violation of a defendant’s right to review evidence. The defendant should ALWAYS have access to materials the prosecutor wants to use at trial. Indeed, it’s a blatant violation of a defendant’s Constitutional rights to deny access. Providing evidence to the other side is also, quite simply, a professional courtesy.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.