destruction of police officers notes

WIELDING EVIDENTIARY BLUDGEON, COURT ENJOINS POLICE DESTRUCTION OF NOTES

The N.J. Law Journal reports:

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday put law enforcement on notice to stop destroying notes taken during an investigation, lest criminal juries be told they may draw negative conclusions from such an action. Because an officer’s notes may be of aid to the defense, “the time has come to join other states that require the imposition of an ‘appropriate sanction’ whenever an officer’s written notes are not preserved,” the 4-3 majority held in State v. W.B., A-80-09. The Court deferred the requirement for 30 days to give county prosecutors time to pass along the new mandate and the Criminal Practice Committee to make any needed rule changes. After that, if notes are lost or destroyed before trial, a defendant may be entitled to an adverse-inference charge.

Police Officer’s rationale

Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Donna Gade, a sexual-assault investigator, testified that she destroyed her notes after W.B. made a videotaped confession and after she had written her final report.

Gade said she did so because her supervisors had taught her to destroy contemporaneous notes. The practice is common, despite a ruling in State v. Branch , 182 N.J. 338 (2005), that notes should not be destroyed.

State v WB-SYLLABUS3-destruction of officers notes

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About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information, tips and tricks to help drivers beat NYC parking tickets.

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