We have the pleasure of representing a family who lost their mother in a tragic car accident with a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy. The car accident occurred on April 11, 2016, approximately 4 months ago – and to date, the family has been denied access to the vehicle, denied access to the findings of the investigation and denied access to any other evidence. The Sheriff’s Office has still not returned their mother’s vehicle to the family, nor granted the family access to view the vehicle. This begs the question, is 4 months a reasonable time period to withhold evidence from a family who is seeking answers?
The Sheriff’s Office has declined to allow the family access to the evidence and information they are seeking based on La. R.S. § 44:3. La. R.S. § 44:3 is a special law in Louisiana which allows the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney to deny access to evidence “pertaining to a pending criminal litigation or any criminal litigation which can be reasonably anticipated…” Per our communications with the Sheriff’s Office, it is standard operating procedure for every accident involving a deputy to be presented to the District Attorney’s Office. Once presented to the District Attorney’s Office, the reviewing attorney will determine whether anyone involved in the accident will be prosecuted. Other than this law, their are no other guidelines which govern the timeliness of an accident investigation or the District Attorney’s review period.