CALIFORNIA v. TROMBETTA ET AL.

467 U.S. 479104 S. Ct. 252881 L. Ed. 2d 413 (, )

CALIFORNIA v. TROMBETTA ET AL.

No. 83-305

Decided: June 11, 1984

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT.

142 Cal. App. 3d 138, 190 Cal. Rptr. 319, reversed and remanded.

Charles R. B. Kirk, Deputy Attorney General of California, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were John K. Van De Kamp, Attorney General, William D. Stein, Assistant Attorney General, and Gloria F. De Hart, Deputy Attorney General.

John F. DeMeo argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Thomas R. Kenney, J. Frederick Haley, and John A. Pettis. *

* Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the State of Minnesota et al. by Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General of Minnesota, James B. Early, Special Assistant Attorney General, and Thomas L. Fabel, Deputy Attorney General, Jim Smith, Attorney General of Florida, Linley E. Pearson, Attorney General of Indiana, Edwin Lloyd Tittman, Attorney General of Mississippi, and Mike Greely, Attorney General of Montana; for the Appellate Committee of the California District Attorney's Association by John R. Vance, Jr.; and for the National District Attorneys Association, Inc., et al. by David Crump, Wayne W. Schmidt, James P. Manak, and Edwin L. Miller, Jr.

George L. Schraer and Lisa Short filed a brief for the State Public Defender of California as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the State of North Carolina by Rufus L. Edmisten, Attorney General, and Isaac T. Avery III, Special Deputy Attorney General; for the County of Los Angeles by Robert H. Philibosian, Harry B. Sondheim, and John W. Messer; and for the California Public Defender's Association et al. by Albert J. Menaster, William M. Thornbury, and Ephraim Margolin.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. O'CONNOR, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 491.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires the State to disclose to criminal defendants favorable evidence that is material either to guilt or to punishment. United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (1976); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). This case raises the question whether the Fourteenth Amendment also demands that the State preserve potentially exculpatory evidence on behalf of defendants. In particular, the question presented is whether the Due Process Clause requires law enforcement agencies to preserve breath samples of suspected drunken drivers in order for the results of breath-analysis tests to be admissible in criminal prosecutions.

* The Omicron Intoxilyzer (Intoxilyzer) is a device used in California to measure the concentration of alcohol in the blood of motorists suspected of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. n1 The Intoxilyzer analyzes the suspect's breath. To operate the device, law enforcement officers follow these procedures:

"Prior to any test, the device is purged by pumping clean air through it until readings of 0.00 are obtained. The breath test requires a sample of â

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