Case Details


Criminal Jurisdiction, Imputed Knowledge

Filing State



New Hampshire Supreme Court




New Hampshire v. Etienne, 2011 N.H. LEXIS 189 (N.H. 2011).


Knowledge of different attorneys in AG office can be imputed to the whole office in connection with exculpatory evidence in criminal case.

Case Description

A criminal defendant convicted of murder appealed his conviction on the grounds, among others, that the Attorney General’s office had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence at his trial. One of the witnesses at the defendant’s trial had been prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office for unrelated drug charges, and the Attorney General’s office had recommended that he receive a suspended sentence for those charges in light of his cooperation in that case. Defendant argued that the evidence that a prosecution witness had received a light sentence at the suggestion of the Attorney General would have been favorable to his case. The Attorney General argued that the attorneys prosecuting the murder case did not know anything about the state’s proffer in the unrelated drug cases, which were handled by a different attorney. However, the court concluded that the knowledge of any attorney in the criminal bureau of the Attorney General’s Office should be imputed to the State for purposes of determining whether the State “knowingly withheld” exculpatory evidence. Even though no single attorney knew of both the proffer and the fact that the witness would be testifying for the state in the murder case, the separate attorneys within the Attorney General’s office did possess all of this knowledge. Because the knowledge may be imputed, “the defendant established that the State possessed the information regarding Gomez’s cooperation with the State on the drug charges.”