Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Appellate record must permit "meaningful appellate review"

In State v. Ladsen, Travis Anthony Ladson was convicted of first-degree burglary following a three-day trial. Ladson appealed. Approximately ten months transpired after the appeal was filed before the court reporter notified the parties that her recording equipment failed and no part of the trial was recorded. A hearing to reconstruct the record The hearing to reconstruct the record took place more than a year after Ladson was convicted and sentenced. In this proceeding, the judge and counsel could not even agree on whether Ladson testified.

Making new law, the Court of Appeals held "that our supreme court would require a reconstructed record on appeal to allow for 'meaningful appellate review.' A new trial is therefore appropriate if the appellant establishes that 'the incomplete nature of the transcript prevents the appellate court from conducting a meaningful appellate review."

The panel did find that meaningful appellate review was impossible. Most of the reconstructed record was but a summary of witness testimony and there were myriad disputes about the content of the testimony.

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