Dorothy Singer vs. State of Florida
This unanimous decision allowed Singer, who was convicted of 1st degree murder, a new trial because the trial court denied her due process. The ruling reads:
“Based on counsel’s limited experience with DNA cases and lack of familiarity with FDLE’s current procedures, combined with the complexity of the expert report at issue here, we conclude that 12 days was wholly inadequate to prepare for trial.”
When the Prosecutor added an expert DNA report shortly before trial, the Defense requested an extension to prepare. The new evidence changed the defense plan completely. He needed time to receive the new witness' lab notes and to get his own DNA expert. The Prosecutor agreed with the extension request. The trial court judge denied it because he thought there was no chance the new expert was wrong and saw it as a waste of money.
This Court finds that the trial court's denial of an extension very likely caused prejudice against Singer. The 12 remaining days weren't long enough to prepare. There was an expected delay of 1-2 weeks to get the State's expert witness' notes. The Expert's notes could not be fully evaluated. The Defense lawyer, who was not familiar with reading DNA reports, needed his own DNA Expert to challenge the Expert's testimony. As it was, the Defense was forced to go forward unprepared.
This Court recognizes the difficulties and expense of re-scheduling a trial, but they argue those things are not more important than a defendant's right to due process.
Dorothy Singer was convicted of 1st degree murder. She shot her husband multiple times with a firearm, killed him, then covered up his death. Defense argued she was in fear for her life and defended herself during a physical altercation. In her original trial, the trial court did not allow a time extension when the State disclosed new DNA evidence shortly before trial.
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