Justice Court Order Allowing Disclosure of Blood Test Results of Others Than DUI Defendant Upheld

In the case of State v. Chopra the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed a Superior Court decision upholding the ruling of a Justice of the Peace which required the State to provide the Defendant in a DUI prosecution with the results of “all chromatograms and batch data generated for every sample tested” by the laboratory which tested Defendant’s blood on the date that the laboratory tested his blood.  The purpose of the testing was in order to assist in determining “whether the results of [the] laboratory[‘s] testing in [the Defendant’s] case are reliable.”

In the proceeding before the Court of Appeals, Defendant first argued that the State’s procedure for seeking appellate review was improper and therefore the Court of Appeals was without proper jurisdiction to determine whether the Superior Court’s order affirming the Justice Court was improper.  The Court of Appeals rejected this argument holding that case law in Arizona provides the appellate court with “flexibility” in reviewing Superior Court matters in cases such as these, and that is could exercise “special action jurisdiction” in its discretion in order to assure the law had been properly applied.  Interestingly, when the Superior Court had affirmed the holding of the Justice Court, its basis for doing so was a determination that the Justice Court decision was “not clearly erroneous or an abuse of discretion”and due to the “limited nature of the disclosure” requested by the Defendant, the Superior Court had the discretion to deny jurisdiction of the request for its review of the Justice Court’s order by the State.  In other words, Defendant asked the Court of Appeals to do with the Superior Court’s Order precisely what the Superior Court did with respect to the Justice Court order and the Court of Appeals refused to do so.

However, the Court of Appeals also noted Defendant’s argument he was entitled to the information sought because the State’s expert would be employing the requested information in rendering his opinion as to the reliability of the laboratory’s test results.  As a matter of due process, the Court stated Defendant should have access to the same information used by his opposing expert to support that expert’s opinion for purposes of cross-examination and testing the validity of that expert’s opinion.

As such, while the Court of Appeals determined it had the right to review the Superior Courts denial in reviewing the Justice Court, it upheld the Superior Court’s refusal as being within that court’s sound discretion.

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