“Did the court of appeals fail to apply to the standard of review correctly in conducting its Brady analysis?”
Two weeks before Diamond’s trial for DWI, Gooden, a Harris County lab technician, was removed her from casework duties by her supervisor for labeling the wrong suspect’s name in a lab report in a different case. At Diamond’s trial in late April 2014, Gooden testified that his BAC was .193. In finding him guilty, the jury found that his BAC was above .15, which enhanced the DWI offense to a Class A misdemeanor.
About a month later, Gooden self-reported the labeling error to the Forensic Science Commission, which then opened an investigation. Then, in August, Gooden’s supervisor issued an internal memo declining to reinstate Gooden’s status because she could not answer basic questions about the analysis used to measure BAC. The Commission later concluded that the lab’s failure to disclose that information to Diamond’s prosecutors, among other things, denied them the opportunity to disclose it and possibly deprived the defense of impeachment information. With this new evidence, Diamond sought habeas relief under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 11.072, alleging that the information was favorable and material under Brady v. Maryland. 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The trial court denied relief.
A majority of the court of appeals reversed. The majority determined that Gooden’s work status and misidentification in an unrelated case would have provided Diamond with favorable impeachment evidence. Because Gooden testified that other lab personnel mishandled the specimen in Diamond’s case, her own error was relevant to the lab’s overall lack of integrity in handling evidence at that time. The majority also concluded that the August memo could have been used to impeach Gooden’s qualifications and the reliability of the BAC results. Next, it held that, even though there was overwhelming evidence of intoxication from the arresting officer, the impeachment evidence was material to the .15 enhancement. Gooden’s testimony and report were the only evidence supporting that element. It therefore reversed the judgment.
The dissent observed that the reason for continuing Gooden’s inactive casework status in August was qualitatively different than that for her initial removal. Therefore, the August memo, written after she testified, could not have been used to impeach her qualifications and the reliability of the results. And the materiality of the .15 BAC cannot be established without undermining her qualifications and application of the science.
Adopting the dissent’s reasoning, the State contends that the majority of the court of appeals erred in finding the evidence favorable and material based on the August memo.