Should the government earn a profit on evidence?

The firm is currently awaiting decision in an appeal dealing with your right to access evidence the government will use against you in a prosecution.  Everyone who paid attention in 7th grade civics or who watched “My Cousin Vinny” knows that if the government chooses to prosecute you, it must provide you all evidence it possesses that would tend to prove your innocence or guilt.  This is a sound protection of your right to “due process”, as declared by the United States Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland.

However in New Jersey municipal court, where speeding tickets and other minor crimes are prosecuted, there is a distinct twist on fulfilling this Constitutional right.  You see, 217 towns were charging a very handsome sum for you to find out how the State was going to prove the case.  Say for instance you received a speeding ticket.  Venturing further, let’s dare say you disputed you were speeding and wanted to see the evidence.  That means you would be entitled to the certification of the radar gun, the certification of the tuning fork used to calibrate the radar gun and the officer’s training certificate showing that he was trained to properly use the equipment.  For those three pages, towns were charging $25, $50 and even $100!!!

The firm brought a class action to stop the practice, contending this evidence should be free (under Brady v. Maryland the government has to give it to you whether you actually asked for it or not) or, at worst, should cost no more than any other government record.  Constantine v. Bass River, et. als.

If you are innocent until proven guilty, isn’t this a fine being imposed on the innocent?

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