Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's the matter with Arizona?

So in the early part of Tuesday, the prosecutors who have charged the 8 year-old boy with murder released only 12 minutes of video of the young boy's police interrogation, none of which contained the alleged confession. But later in the day, the remainder of the video was released. By the prosecutor's office. And why? Because it's a matter of public record, according to Apache County Attorney Christopher Candelaria, so they were OBLIGATED to release it.

What? No, let me amend that. WTF??? The alleged videotaped confession of an 8 year-old charged with murder in an on-going investigation is a matter of public record? What have we been doing all these years messing with motions for discovery? We didn't need to mess with reciprocal discovery rules. We just needed to be filing open records requests! How could none of us have known that? Did the entire criminal defense bar miss the day in law school when they explained this public records stuff?

Oddly, Mr. Candelaria didn't elaborate on what he meant by his claim that evidence in an ongoing murder case involving a juvenile defendant was a matter of public record. Probably because it isn't. Obviously, it isn't. Will someone in Arizona please, PLEASE, report this to the disciplinary administrator so an investigation can be conducted into whether this guy has committed any ethical violations here? Or maybe even broken a law?

And as I was typing this, NBC showed a portion of the tape where the boy said he shot his father. So much for this child's right to be presumed innocent and his right to confidentiality of his juvenile case. I don't know what the people involved in this prosecution are thinking. I guess my earlier expressed hope that reason and order might be restored to this case was not granted.


Anonymous said...

Great point. It seems prosecutors wanted to make sure some potential jurors saw this - since they'll (hopefully) never see it in a courtroom.

Anonymous said...

For the record, NBC specifically declined to ID the kid, and blurred his face in the video. AZ has a pretty good public records law. I haven't ever worked there, but I seriously doubt that I'd be able to get a copy of a video tape showing an interrogation in an open case if the DA didn't want it out there... which makes me think the line about it being a public record is total BS.

S said...

I'm starting to think that the videotape being released isn't such a bad thing for the kid. Almost universally, the commentary I have seen today has been incredibly negative towards the police for conducting this interview. And almost everyone has expressed serious concerns about the validity of this "confession" after seeing the way the interview progressed.

And I steadfastly maintain that there is no way this videotape qualified as a public record that the prosecutor was obligated to release pre-trial. Bunk.

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