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Name: Bridgeforth v. Superior Court (People)
Case #: B244661
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/25/2013

Prosecutor did not violate her duty to disclose evidence prior to the preliminary hearing because photographs of the victim’s truck were not favorable to the defense or material to the probable cause determination. Bridgeforth was charged with four offenses, including attempted murder and murder with a special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed while he was engaged in the commission of a robbery. The trial court denied Bridgeforth’s motion to dismiss the information based on the prosecutor’s failure to disclose, prior to the preliminary hearing, photographs of the attempted murder victim’s truck, which denied him the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses and violated Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83. Bridgeforth sought a writ of mandate on the theory that the delay in disclosure violated his due process rights. The appellate court denied the petition for writ of mandate. Agreeing with People v. Gutierrez (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 343, the court held that a defendant has a due process right to disclosure prior to the preliminary hearing of evidence that is both favorable and material. The standard of materiality is whether there is a reasonable probability that disclosure of the evidence would have altered the magistrate’s probable cause determination with respect to any allegation. This right is independent of, and thus not impaired or affected by the criminal discovery statutes. In this case, however, the photographs of the truck were not favorable to the defense, and the prosecutor’s delay in turning them over did not violate due process.