The Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. §3500 (named after Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657) requires the government to produce any statement of a witness in their possession relating to the subject matter as to which the witness testified.
Jencks has been interpreted to include the police “radio run” – the recorded communications between the officers on the street and the police station house. Failure of the government to produce the right radio run resulted in a dismissal of a marijuana case this week in Superior Court.
The problem began because the U.S. Park Police tell time by a 24-hour, military clock, while the rest of us use a 12-hour civilian clock, with “a.m.” and “p.m.”
The government marked ready for trial, but when Paul listed to the radio run, he realized it was the wrong recording. The alleged crime happened at 12:30 p.m., but the radio run was from 12:30 a.m. Without the right recording, the government could not fulfill its mandate under the Jencks Act.
In granting the defense motion to dismiss, the Court held that the radio run was Jencks material, and because the government didn’t have it, they were not ready for trial, and accordingly dismissed the case for want of prosecution.