State Supreme Court reverses ruling on booking photos

Associated Press
Published: 5/9/2019 1:24:26 PM
Modified: 5/9/2019 1:24:16 PM

A judge did not have the authority to require prosecutors to provide a photo lineup for a defendant’s benefit in a trespassing case, the New Hampshire Supreme Court said in ruling Thursday that reversed the decision.

Police accused a man of entering the alleged victim’s Lebanon home in 2017 without authority.

The man’s lawyer said requiring the alleged victim to attend a pretrial deposition and identify a suspect from booking photos would ensure a fair trial. The defense wanted prosecutors to supply the photos, from which the defense would create its own lineup for the alleged victim. Prosecutors objected to having to provide the photos.

The judge found the defendant’s request was “neither unduly burdensome nor beyond the responsibility the state has.” Prosecutors then asked the state supreme court for a review.

The Supreme Court noted its earlier decision against a judge who ordered prosecutors to obtain an alleged victim’s cellphone and social media communications that the defendant believed would help him at trial. It said a judge can’t compel the state to obtain evidence for the defendant.

The Supreme Court also disagreed that the judge’s order in the trespassing case is a “routine discovery order” that merely requires the state to produce materials already in its possession. “Although the state generally possesses booking photographs, there is no evidence that the state had already selected booking photographs specifically for use in a photographic array in this case,” the court wrote.

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