Due Process Right
Both the federal and Arizona constitutions, a defendant has a due process right to present a defense, including a right to effective cross-examination of witnesses at trial. State ex rel. Romley v. Superior Court (Roper), 172 Ariz. 232, 236 (App. 1992) (citing Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284 (1973) (right to present defense).
- Murphy v. Superior Court, 142 Ariz. 273, 278 (1984) (quoting Weatherford v. Bursey, 429 U.S. 545, 559 (1977)), discovery rules in criminal cases are intended to effectuate the constitutional right of cross-examination. Id.
Disclosure & The Right
Ariz. R. Crim. P. 15.1(g)(1): A court may order any person to make available to the defendant material or information the defendant requests if the court finds that the defendant has a substantial need for the material or information to prepare the defendant’s case and cannot obtain the substantial equivalent by other means without undue hardship.
- State v. Fields, 196 Ariz. 580, ¶ 4 (App. 1999). Information is discoverable, however, only if it is itself admissible or could lead to admissible evidence.
- State v. Kellywood, 246 Ariz. 45, ¶¶ 7-8 (App. 2018) (in camera review required where defendant shows reasonable possibility that information sought, although constitutionally protected by Victim’s Bill of Rights, is needed for meaningful opportunity to present complete defense; If a defendant establishes a “reasonable possibility” that a discovery request will yield admissible evidence necessary for a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense, the defendant is entitled to, at minimum, in camera review of the requested material.
- State v. Hatton, 116 Ariz. 142, 150 (1977); see also Kellywood, 246 Ariz. 45, ¶ 9 (conclusory assertions or speculation do not entitle defendant to court-ordered discovery; Mere conjecture without more that certain information might be useful as exculpatory evidence is not sufficient to reverse a trial court’s denial of a request for disclosure.