Friday, March 22, 2013

KY COA - Wright - CI issues

Floyd Wright v. Commonwealth, 2011-CA-000759-MR To Be Published

Opinion by Vanmeter, Caperton and Lambert Concur

            Wright was convicted of complicity to first degree trafficking in a controlled substance.  Wright was at another man’s house and a CI came over to buy drugs from the other man.  Wright and the other man went into the kitchen and the other man came back with the drugs.  The CI asked why the drugs were cold and claimed Wright said “we had put them in the freezer.”

After trial, the jury wanted to listen to the audio recording again.  The judge allowed them to take the prosecutor’s laptop into the deliberation room with them to listen to it.  Giving jurors unrestricted and unmonitored access to a party’s laptop, outside the defendant’s presence, is highly improper and the likelihood of prejudice is very high.  This was an abuse of discretion and violated RCr 9.74.  

It was also error for a detective to interpret the audio recording of the undercover CI drug buy for the jury and to vouch for the credibility of the CI.

Contributed by Steven Buck