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Name: People v. Lewis
Case #: A143106
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/09/2015
Summary

Prosecution’s failure to disclose impeachment evidence regarding arresting officer did not violate Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 because the evidence was not material. Lewis was convicted of vehicle theft and evading a peace officer. During trial, he filed a Brady motion seeking impeachment information regarding the arresting officer, Switzer, because the defense discovered he was on administrative leave when it attempted to subpoena him as a witness. The trial court denied the motion. Switzer did not testify. Following his conviction, Lewis moved for a new trial on his conviction for evasion after finding that Switzer pleaded no contest to a number of offenses, including burglaries and a drug offense. Lewis asserted that the evidence would have supported his claim that he fled police out of fear of Switzer’s threat to release his dog, not with a wanton disregard for safety. The trial court denied the motion. On appeal Lewis argued that his Brady motion and motion for a new trial were improperly denied. Held: Affirmed. To prove a Brady violation, the defense must show that the withheld evidence is material. Evidence is material if there is a reasonable probability its disclosure would have altered the trial result. The Court of Appeal concluded that the prosecution’s failure to provide the defense with information related to Switzer’s misconduct was not material. There was overwhelming evidence of Lewis’s guilt including the testimony of other officers who participated in the police chase. Furthermore, Lewis’s testimony was not credible. Thus, had Lewis been able to offer evidence of Switzer’s misconduct, he would not have been acquitted. The court noted that it did not condone the prosecution’s conduct in withholding the evidence and that Lewis was likely entitled to discovery of at least some of the evidence of Switzer’s misconduct.