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Name: Aguilar v. Woodford
Case #: 09-55575
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/29/2013
Summary

First degree murder conviction must be reversed where prosecutor failed to disclose evidence of police dog’s history of mistaken scent identifications. In a murder prosecution, the prosecutor introduced evidence that a police dog named Reilly had alerted to a “scent pad” showing that Aguilar’s scent was present on the seat of the car in which the shooter was observed. The prosecution did not disclose to the defense that Reilly had a history of making mistaken scent identifications. The scent identification was the only evidence tying Aguilar to the car, and the other evidence against him was weak. Evidence suggesting another person was the shooter was substantial. In a federal habeas corpus petition, Aguilar argued that the prosecution’s failure to disclose Reilly’s history of mistaken scent identifications violated Brady v. Maryland, and that the state court’s decision to the contrary was an unreasonable application of Brady. The Ninth Circuit court granted habeas relief. Because the evidence linking Aguilar to the crime was based primarily on the dog scent identification, the undisclosed evidence was unquestionably favorable to Aguilar and resulted in prejudice.