As regular readers of our Arizona DUI Defense blog will recall, we wrote in a recent post about allegations made by former Scottsdale City Prosecutor Shawn Fuller. He was fired in early February over what the city called “personnel issues.” Fuller says his dismissal was due to his investigation into the mishandling of some DUI cases by a former city prosecutor.
Fuller says that on Sept. 30 of last year (the day he assumed his office), he was told of a rumor by an assistant city prosecutor that the city had deliberately and wrongly withheld exonerating evidence from defendants in some drunk driving cases.
In cases in which there was no breath-test evidence (because a driver had refused the test) and a blood sample was obtained with a warrant, and test results then indicated no alcohol or drugs in the driver, the city simply withheld that evidence from the defendant – a practice clearly disallowed by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Fuller decided to look into the rumor by ordering an audit of DUI cases stretching back five years. According to Fuller’s lawyer, the former prosecutor found approximately 10 cases in which exculpatory evidence was wrongly withheld – and the defendants were then convicted of DUI.
A statement from the city acknowledges that City Attorney Sherry Scott agreed that Fuller could audit “around 1,000 cases,” but insists that “only 9 cases” were found in which evidence was not shared as required and that that the withholding of evidence was “an oversight.”
The city also claims that before Fuller was hired, procedures had been adopted to prevent similar “oversights” from happening in the future.
Fuller said that almost as soon as he began his investigation, he found a case in which evidence had been withheld. He told Scott that he intended to file a request that the defendant be given an opportunity to withdraw a guilty plea.
In most of the cases in which evidence was withheld, the defendant had not had a criminal defense attorney and had decided on their own to plead guilty.