The lawyer for a defendant charged with DUI in Utah will be able to view the personnel file of the Utah Highway Patrol Trooper that arrested him.
On January 2, 2010, Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) Trooper Lisa Steed stopped Theron Alexander's vehicle allegedly because his license plate was not illuminated. She claims she then found that Alexander was driving impaired and arrested him for DUI.
Alexander's attorney, however, says Steed's traffic stop was unlawful and argues that, according to the trooper's dashboard video, Alexander's license plate was indeed illuminated and therefore he should've never been pulled over. He also claims that Steed made contradictory statements about whether Alexander's pupils showed signs that he was driving under the influence of alcohol and that she has also suppressed evidence in his client's case.
As a result, Alexander's attorney has requested to have access to Trooper Steed's personnel files - which include information such as disciplinary action that may have been taken against the officer, as well as notes from the officer's investigations.
And, last month, the Third District Court Jude Mark Kouris granted the request and ordered the UHP to hand over Steed's personnel file as requested.
The ruling could potentially help Alexander's case as well as 30 other DUI cases in which Steed was involved.
Despite past praise for her service - such as being awarded UHP Trooper of the Year in 2007 - this is not the first time that Steed has been accused of using questionable methods when making an arrest. In fact, in one case, UHP paid a defendant $40,000 because Steed used a Taser on him during a traffic stop.
However, the UHP argues that releasing Steed's personnel file could "have a chilling effect on the UHP's ability to perform disciplinary investigations in the future."
However, Alexander's attorney says that, "the public has a great interest in having honest law enforcement officers, and a correspondingly great interest in disclosure of evidence that a law enforcement officer is not honest."