From the testimony of a serology expert, the court learned that human blood is comprised of several groups of characteristics, including certain genetic factors which can be used to distinguish blood samples. One of those is blood type, known as the ABO genetic marker system. There are also many other systems which can be used, until a unique genetic profile of a blood sample is arrived at, which distinguishes it from any other. Such exclusion can be made, not only with reasonable certainty, but with absolute certainty. Moreover, simply using two systems, the ABO and GM systems, it is possible to distinguish one blood sample from another in eighty-five to ninety percent of the cases. The age of the sample does not prohibit such analysis for, if it is properly preserved, it can be tested after many years and the methods of preservation are simple. In fact, blood permitted to dry at room temperature, as on the complainant’s slacks, needed no special preservation in order to be tested, even six years later.
The court also finds that the police acted in an irresponsible and negligent manner in discarding the blood scrapings taken from the scene of the crime without any attempt at testing them and in allowing the victim to wear her bloodstained slacks home and then forgetting to voucher them. The court further finds that the evidence was material on the issue of guilt for, according to the serology expert, the blood samples could have been tested and the results utilized to completely clear the man.
After determining the significance that the unpreserved evidence bears on the question of guilt, the next question is whether the prosecution should be sanctioned for the failure of the police to preserve such material evidence. Sources revealed that aforesaid issue was confronted the court with reference to tapes of conversations between the man’s and an undercover agent, allegedly concerning the sale of a drug. As with the blood scrapings and bloodstained slacks matter, no attempt was made to preserve the tapes which were unaccountably lost.
The court also observed that the cases point up an anomaly of the criminal process, controlled by rules of law protecting adversary rights and procedures at some stages. Moreover, the process at other stages is thoroughly unstructured. Beside the carefully safeguarded fairness of the courtroom is a dark no man’s land of un-reviewed bureaucratic and discretionary decision making. Too often, what the process asserts to secure in its formal stages can be subverted or diluted in its more informal stage. Assault was not charged.
Based on records, all vigorous procedures to govern preservation of such evidence by federal investigative agencies, including the police, would be required, the court concluded that a new trial of the case would be pointless since, without the testimony of the undercover agent, there would be no case and, therefore, the choice was either dismissal of the indictment. The case was then remanded for a hearing by the district court to determine which of those would serve the ends of justice with instructions to weigh the degree of negligence or bad faith involved and the importance of the evidence lost, and the evidence of guilt was presented at trial.
Where there is no other evidence connecting a man with the commission of a crime, except eyewitness identification testimony, the court has always been concerned that the wrong man not be mistakenly accused and convicted of a crime he did not commit.
As a result, the court finds that the prosecution should be sanctioned for the failure of the police to preserve evidence which was not merely material, but invaluable, on the issue of guilt. The court further finds that the one and only appropriate sanction is the dismissal of the indictment. Consequently, the court decided to grant to man’s motion to dismiss his indictment.