Surprise, surprise. (No more)

In a case sure to be cited over and over and over again by defense lawyers, the Court of Appeals today reversed and remanded Jerome Patterson v. State of Mississippi.  Patterson was indicted for delivery of a controlled substance and sentenced to 8 years to serve.

Patterson was indicted on January 26, 2010 and set for trial on February 18, 2010.  Patterson attorney filed a Motion for Discovery on January 28 asking for all witnesses and statements.  The case revolved around a confidential informant but the State did not release the CI’s name or statements until two days prior to the trial.  Defense counsel moved for a continuance that was denied because the Trial Court felt that since the State divulged the CI’s id two days prior to the trial, that was enough time and denied the continuance.  The COA disagreed.  They held,

“The State’s abuse of the rules of discovery unquestionably handicapped the defense
in formula ting a tria l stra tegy. Having only be en afforded the requisite informa tion rega rding
the witne ss and an inte rview with the witne ss le ss than twenty-four hours before the tria l, the
defense was not allowed adequate time to assess the State’s case, investigate the witness,
follow up on informa tion gle aned from the inte rview and newly ga the red informa tion, and
generally prepare for trial.”

Furthermore, the opinion stated an argument I made years ago, that I still can’t get my head around.

“By comparison, under Uniform Rule of Circuit and County Court 4.04 (A), absent special circumstances, a court ” will not allow testimony at trial of an expert witness who was not designated…at least sixty days before trial.” (Emphasis added.)  Just as civil cases often hinge upon expert testimony, many criminal cases turn upon the testimony of a confidential informant, as in this case.  Yet counsel involved in a civil case would receive the requisite information  regarding a star expert witness months before the trial begins, whereas here, counsel in a criminal case, which involves a human being’s freedom, was not granted critical information on a star witness until hours before the trial.”

Thank you for saying it.  I have never understood why civil cases (money) are granted so many more protections than criminal cases (freedom).


					
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