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State v. Chopra

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division

December 20, 2016

The State of Arizona, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
Bhajanpal S. Chopra, Defendant/Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Pima County No. C20160619 The Honorable Richard D. Nichols, Judge

         AFFIRMED

         COUNSEL

          Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney By Nicolette Kneup, Tucson Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant

          Nesci & St. Louis, P.L.L.C., Tucson By Michelle L. Behan and Joseph P. St. Louis Counsel for Defendant/Appellee

          Judge Miller authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Vásquez and Chief Judge Eckerstrom concurred.

          OPINION

          MILLER, Judge

         ¶1 The state appeals the superior court's order in a special action arising out of the justice court's ruling directing the state to disclose the results of other blood tests in the same test batch as defendant Bhajanpal Chopra's. Determining the superior court did not abuse its discretion in declining special action jurisdiction, we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         ¶2 In February 2015, Chopra was charged in justice court with driving while impaired by alcohol to the slightest degree and driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. Law enforcement officers collected a blood sample from Chopra during the course of their investigation. The state alleged a test of the blood sample showed Chopra's blood alcohol concentration surpassed the legal limit.

         ¶3 Chopra moved for disclosure of "all chromatograms and batch data generated for every sample tested" on the same date as Chopra's sample, in order to determine "whether the results of laboratory testing conducted in this case are reliable." The state opposed the motion, arguing other people's test results were irrelevant to Chopra's case, and that Chopra's request amounted to a mere "fishing expedition." The trial court granted Chopra's motion and ordered disclosure.

         ¶4 The state challenged that ruling by special action in the superior court. After oral argument on the petition, the court concluded in a signed minute entry: "The court finds that the trial court's ruling was not clearly erroneous or an abuse of discretion. Given the limited nature of the disclosure required, this Court declines to accept jurisdiction." The state now appeals.

         Jurisdiction

         ¶5 Chopra argues we lack appellate jurisdiction, pointing out that no subsection of A.R.S. § 13-4032, the statute governing state criminal appeals, authorizes an appeal in this situation. The state did not file a reply, but in its opening brief cites A.R.S. § 12-2101 as authority for this court's jurisdiction. The applicability of § 13-4032 to an appeal by the state from an adverse special action ruling in the superior court has not been addressed previously. Although in many circumstances a party's failure to respond to an argument is regarded as a concession to ...


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