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State Constitutions

Last week Texas’s Waco Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Peña v. State holding that a defendant does not have to show bad faith to establish a due-course-of-law violation when the State destroys potentially exculpatory evidence. In doing so, the Waco Court (an intermediate appellate court with criminal and civil jurisdiction) applied the Texas Constitution’s Due Course of Law Clause to give more protection than the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause.

The Peña case illustrates the good that can come of being familiar with your state constitution and arguing its provisions in addition to those of the U.S. Constitution. (I blogged about the greater protection the Texas Constitution gives religion here.)

The Peña case also illustrates the importance of each state’s constitutional jurisprudence on the others: in reaching its conclusion the Waco court followed 12 other states — Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia (cites) — that refused to apply Arizona v. Youngblood’s “bad faith” requirement for due process violations



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