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View Full Version : police evidence, public information?


wring
07-11-2001, 01:41 PM
Thread inspired by the Levy/Condit situation.

Here you have a police investigation. At this point, this is not a criminal investigation, because there is no evidence of a crime having occured. Mr. Condit has allowed the police to search his premises, they've confiscated items.

Now, if a criminal complaint comes about and items seized from the apartment are part of the evidence for that criminal complaint, obviously (at least to me), the stuff is public.

However, what about items seized that do not have anything to do with any subsequent criminal complaint? For example, let's say that police uncovered evidence that Condit was into S & M or had an extensive pornography collection, or had a 'little black book' of 200 phone numbers and descriptions of exploits with other women. And, that none of this had anything to do with Levy's disappearance. Would this information be accessible to the public (via FOI or the press or whatever?)

I'd assume that these items would be returned to him should they not be part of a criminal complaint, however, seems to me that whenever the police remove items from a place during a search, there's a list. Is such a list public information. Now? ever?
(obviously if some one bribed a cop they'd become public, I'm curious if there's a legal means)

Hamlet
07-11-2001, 02:26 PM
Hi wring!

Items seized in a police search are still considered the property of the person from whom it was seized (unless it was contraband, i/e illegal drugs, illegal weapon, etc.) The police are therefore responsible for the property while they have it. If it is in fact evidence, they can keep it, but if it is not going to be used, like Condit's porno collection, they would have to return it. To answer your specific question, the police will definately have an evidence list of all property seized, but no that list is not public record. To (legally) obtain that list, one would have to obtain a court order (subpoena) to get the police reports. In the subpoena, the petitioner would have to state why they have a legally recognizable right to the list. As far as I am aware, FOI does not cover such police reports.

An interesting corollary question is, if the police do release the police reports, can they then be sued by Condit for violation of privacy? I'll get back to you on that one!