PHILIP HALL, Presiding Judge.
This special action came on regularly for conference on October 30, 2012 before Presiding Judge Philip Hall, Judge Peter B. Swann, and Judge Samuel A. Thumma.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on March 2, 2010, Officer Tupouniua Mataele of the Scottsdale Police Department observed the vehicle Real Party in Interest Doreen Herman
The samples of Herman's blood were submitted to the Scottsdale Crime Lab (SCL) for analysis. On March 11, 2010, SCL Criminalist Lynette Kogler reported that testing of Herman's blood demonstrated a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .192. On February 14, 2011, Herman was indicted on two counts of aggravated driving under the influence. Because Criminalist Kogler was no longer employed by the SCL at that time, the State requested that it retest Herman's blood. On August 25, 2011, SCL Criminalist Richard Bond reported that testing of Herman's blood demonstrated a BAC of .180.
After her indictment, Herman requested that the SCL disclose all information relating to her case as well as information pertaining to the other subject testing conducted within the "same batch." The State disclosed "extended blood packets" from the March 11, 2010 analysis and the August 25, 2011 re-analysis. These extended blood packets contained all of the chromatograms from Herman's tests, the controls and calibrations from the batch data, and redacted information relating to all of the other subject tests that were performed within the same batch. Herman then requested the control and calibration data from 2009, 2010, and 2011, which the SCL provided.
Following these disclosures, Herman filed several motions to suppress the blood alcohol evidence, alleging the SCL's Gas Chromatograph Instrument (GCI) is unreliable. At a July 26, 2012 hearing on the motion to suppress, Herman informed the superior court that she needed all subject test data for 2011 to determine the accuracy and reliability of the GCI. In response, the State argued that the disclosure of unknown subject samples would not assist in determining the accuracy of the GCI's testing because the subject samples are unknown samples. Instead, the State explained that the only means of determining whether the "instruments are working properly and the methods are proper are all of those calibrations and controls with known data." The State also asserted that locating, printing, redacting, and scanning all of the subject test data for 2011 would take weeks to complete and therefore place a great burden on the SCL's limited resources for information that would not assist in determining the accuracy of GCI's testing.
On August 27, 2012, the respondent Commissioners ordered the State to produce "all subject test chromatograms . . . and notes made by the analysts and staff regarding those test results and chromatograms for the year of 2011, from the Scottsdale Police Crime Lab." The respondent Commissioners further ordered that "sanctions shall issue" if the disclosures were not produced by October 1, 2012. The State filed a motion to reconsider, which the respondent Commissioners denied. The State failed to comply with the October 1, 2012 disclosure deadline and the respondent Commissioners set a show cause hearing for October 12, 2012 to determine whether the State should be held in contempt for failing to comply with discovery orders.
The State filed a petition for special action seeking relief from the respondent Commissioners' disclosure order and to stay the show cause hearing. We granted the State's request for a stay. Because we conclude that the respondent Commissioners abused their discretion in entering the disclosure order, and because the State has no equally plain, speedy, or adequate remedy by appeal, we accept jurisdiction and grant relief. Ariz. R.P. Spec. Act. 1(a); State v. Bernini, 222 Ariz. 607, 610-11, ¶ 8, 218 P.3d 1064, 1067-68 (App. 2009); State v. Fields, 196 Ariz. 580, 581, ¶ 1, 2 P.3d 670, 671 (App. 1999).
"A trial court has broad discretion over discovery matters, and we will not disturb its rulings on those matters absent an abuse of that discretion." Fields, 196 Ariz. at 582, ¶ 4, 2 P.3d at 672. "Although a trial court is in the best position to rule on discovery requests, it abuses its discretion when it misapplies the law or predicates its decision upon irrational bases." Id. (internal quotation omitted).
As set forth in Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure (Rule) 15.1(b)(3), the State must disclose all reports "prepared by a law enforcement agency in connection with the particular crime with which the defendant is charged." (Emphasis added). Here, the State complied with the Rule 15.1(b)(3) mandate by disclosing the extended blood packets from the March 11, 2010 analysis and August 25, 2011 re-analysis performed on Herman's blood.
Pursuant to Rule 15.1(g), however, a defendant may obtain a court order requiring the State to disclose reports and information not connected to the crime with which the defendant is charged only upon a showing of "substantial need" for the information and that the defendant "is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent by other means." Fields, 196 Ariz. at 582, ¶ 4, 2 P.3d at 672. "Information is not discoverable unless it could lead to admissible evidence or would be admissible itself." Id.
The State does not contend that the 2011 subject testing data is available to Herman by any other means. Therefore, the narrow question before us is whether Herman has demonstrated a "substantial need" for the information.
Herman contends that the 2011 subject testing data is necessary so that the defense can determine the accuracy and error rate of the GCI and thereby preclude the admission of and/or impeach her BAC results. As argued by defense counsel and acknowledged by the State, the GCI has an intermittent computer software defect.
Herman broadly contends that all of the GCI's test results are unreliable, but has not explained how the GCI's periodic
Herman also asserts that the 2011 subject test data is "potentially Brady
Under these circumstances, we conclude the respondent Commissioners abused their discretion by ordering the State to disclose all 2011 subject testing data. Accordingly,
Moreover, defense counsel mentioned in the trial court and in its special action briefing that there was an instance of mislabeling of vials following a data drop. Though such an error could be critical to an individual defendant whose vial is mislabeled, we perceive no need for statistical evidence pertaining to such errors.
Upon review of the expert affidavits presented to the superior court, we conclude that none of the experts explained how the software defect may have led to inaccurate BAC results in these cases. In the absence of such an explanation, no substantial need for the data disclosure was established.