Friday, March 17, 2017
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues 1 today, reversing trial ruling
In Marvin Beville v. State of Indiana, an 11-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Rush writes:
The State told Marvin Beville it had a video recording of a controlled drug buy between him and a confidential informant. But while the State offered Beville’s public defender the opportunity to review the recording in the prosecutor’s office, it would not allow Beville himself to see the video. Beville accordingly requested a copy of the recording, to no avail. His counsel then filed a motion to compel and argued that Beville’s personal review of the video was fundamental to preparing a defense. The State responded that the informer’s privilege entitled it to withhold disclosing the recording. The trial court agreed with the State, and Beville took this interlocutory appeal.
We acknowledge that when the informer’s privilege is properly invoked, the defendant bears the burden to demonstrate an exception to the privilege—otherwise, disclosure of the requested discovery is not warranted. But it is incumbent on the State to establish that the informer’s privilege applies in the first instance. We conclude the State failed to make that threshold showing because it is unclear whether the video would actually reveal the informant’s identity. And even if the State had made the threshold showing, we find that Beville carried his burden of proving an exception to the privilege because his review of the video was relevant and helpful to his defense. We thus reverse the trial court. * * *
Because the State did not carry its threshold burden in establishing that the informer’s privilege applied to Beville’s discovery request, the State was not entitled to withhold disclosing the video recording. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s denial of Beville’s motion to compel.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 17, 2017 11:41 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions