What is a Darden Hearing?
How do you legally define it?
What are the important elements you should know!
In this article, we will break down the legal definition of Darden Hearing so you know all there is to know about it!
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Understanding Darden Hearing
A Darden hearing is a type of hearing held in criminal or penal cases where an ex parte hearing is held for the court to determine if it’s relevant to disclose a confidential informer’s identity to show probable cause.
In other words, if the prosecutor can only rely on a police officer’s testimony to show probable cause, would be relevant to reveal or disclose an informer’s identity to bonify or enhance the evidence to show probable cause.
Typically, defense attorneys are excluded from such hearings to protect the identity of the informer.
However, the defense lawyer can submit his or her questions to the judge prior to the hearing so the informer can put those questions to the informer.
The objective of Darden Hearings is to protect the anonymity and identity of the police informer.
At the same time, the court has a duty to ensure the interests and constitutional rights of the defendant who is unable to be present are protected or preserved.
Darden Hearing definition
What is the definition of a Darden Hearing?
A Darden Hearing is an ex parte hearing (or a hearing where the defendant or accused is not present) where the court will evaluate the possibility to disclose the identity of a police informer when there is insufficient evidence to show probable cause.
The name “Darden” hearing comes from the case People v. Darden, 313 N.E.2d 49 (N.Y. 1974).
Darden Hearing case law
People vs Crooks
People v. Crooks decided on June 23, 2016, the Court of Appeals makes reference to People v. Darden to indicate the following:
In Darden (34 NY2d 177 ), this Court balanced the need to assure the protection of confidential informants with the rights of criminal defendants to challenge the probable cause offered as justification for the seizure of evidence. We “held that, where ‘there is insufficient evidence to establish probable cause apart from the testimony of the arresting officer as to communications received from an informer,’ it would be ‘fair and wise’ for the People to ‘be required to make the informer available for interrogation before the Judge'” (People v Edwards, 95 NY2d 486, 492 , quoting Darden, 34 NY2d at 181).
The court further states:
We further stated in Darden that, when the identity of the CI is raised at a suppression hearing, the court should conduct an in camera inquiry outside the presence of defendant and his counsel, and make a summary report regarding the existence of the informer and communications made by the CI to the police, taking precautions to protect the anonymity of the CI to the maximum extent possible (see Darden, 34 NY2d at 181). This procedure is “designed to protect against the contingency, of legitimate concern to a defendant, that the informer might have been wholly imaginary and the communication from him [or her] entirely fabricated. At the same time the legitimate interests of the police in preserving the anonymity of the informer [are] respected” (id. at 182).
People vs Nettles
In the matter People v. Nettles decided on May 15, 2019, the court held that:
The Court of Appeals has held that a Darden hearing is necessary where there is insufficient evidence to establish probable cause without information provided by a confidential informant (see People v Crooks, 27 NY3d 609, 612-613; People v Edwards, 95 NY2d at 493). “[A] Darden rule is necessary in order to fulfill the underlying purpose of Darden: insuring that the confidential informant both exists and gave the police information sufficient to establish probable cause, while protecting the informant’s identity.
People vs Givans
In the case People v. Givans decided on March 22, 2019, the court held that:
The purpose of the Darden hearing is to verify “the truthfulness of the police witness’s testimony about his or her dealing with a known informant” (People v Adrion, 82 NY2d 628, 635 ) by ensuring that the informant exists and that he or she provided the police with information about the specified criminal activity (see People v Jones, 149 AD3d 1580, 1581 [4th Dept 2017], lv denied 29 NY3d 1129 ; People v Hernandez, 143 AD3d 1280, 1281 [4th Dept 2016], lv denied 29 NY3d 1080 ). The goal is to allay “any concerns that the informant ‘might have been wholly imaginary and the communication from him [or her] entirely fabricated’ ” (Hernandez, 143 AD3d at 1281, quoting Darden, 34 NY2d at 182; see Adrion, 82 NY2d at 635-636).
So what is the legal definition of Darden Hearing?
Let’s look at a summary of our findings.
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Related legal terms
After Notice and Hearing
Aggravation and Mitigation Hearing
Ex parte hearing