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Arizona Defendant Loses Appeal in Disorderly Conduct Case

In a case before an Arizona court of appeals last month, the defendant asked the court to overturn his conviction for disorderly conduct. The defendant was originally charged after a road rage incident that ended with him pulling out his gun to threaten the driver of another car. The case went to trial, and the defendant was found guilty of disorderly conduct. On appeal, the defendant argued he had an unfair trial because the police failed to save his wife’s 911 call from the day of the incident. Ultimately disagreeing with the defendant, the higher court affirmed the guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving with his wife when he and another car got into a road rage incident. The cars began trying to cut each other off, and the defendant got in front of the other car to begin tapping his brakes in an attempt to ward the second car off.

Eventually, the cars slammed on their brakes. The defendant got out of the car with a gun in his hand. The second car’s driver would later testify that the defendant pointed the gun in his direction, while the defendant would testify that he did not point the gun but instead just made it clear to the second driver that he had a gun in his possession.

Both the second driver and the defendant’s wife called the police. The defendant was charged, and his case went to trial. The jury found him guilty of disorderly conduct for pulling his gun on the second driver. The defendant promptly appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that it was prejudicial for the prosecution to present evidence of the second driver’s 911 call while failing to present evidence of his wife’s 911 call. The police department no longer had possession or the recording of the wife’s call, and instead, they produced a transcript of the call itself. The wife testified on the stand that the transcript was an accurate representation of the call, but still, said the defendant, it was not fair that the jury heard the second driver’s frantic call and did not get the chance to hear his wife’s call.

The court conceded that the police should have kept the recording of the wife’s call, but it also explained in its ruling that the defendant was not unfairly biased as a result. The defendant’s wife was able to testify about what happened during the call, and the jury read the transcript of the call itself. What’s more, said the court, the police department made an honest mistake in failing to keep the call log. No one acted in bad faith by deleting the recording, and the defendant was therefore not entitled to a new trial.

The court thus denied the defendant’s appeal, and the original conviction and sentence remained in place.

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