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Maurice Corbine

Other Wisconsin No Crime Cases
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Shortly before 1 a.m. on September 28, 2007, Lac Courte Oreilles tribal police officer Twylia Dailey clocked a vehicle traveling 51 miles an hour in a 35-mile-an-hour speed zone and followed it into the parking lot of a tavern in Sawyer County, Wisconsin.

Dailey said she saw 30-year-old Maurice Corbine emerge from the driver’s side door and walk toward the tavern. She said two other men started to get out of the front and rear passenger doors, but she ordered them to remain inside. Dailey smelled alcohol on Corbine and took him to the police station. When Corbine refused to take a breath test, he was taken to a local hospital where blood was drawn.

Corbine was charged with drunken driving—his fifth offense—as well as driving on a suspended license.

He went to trial in Sawyer County Circuit Court on July 27, 2011. Dailey testified that she followed the vehicle into the parking lot and saw Corbine get out of the driver’s seat. She said he smelled of alcohol and that at the police station he refused to take a breath test. Dailey testified that he was taken to a hospital for a blood-alcohol test, which showed he was legally intoxicated. She also told the jury she was with Corbine for 2½ hours and he never asserted he was not the driver.

Corbine’s attorney conceded that Corbine was intoxicated, but contended that Corbine was not driving. Corbine and his brother, Rodney, both testified that Rodney was driving and that Dailey did not arrive in the tavern parking lot until about 10 to 15 seconds after they stopped and got out. Rodney told the jury that he got out of the driver’s seat and got into the passenger seat because he didn’t have a driver’s license. Corbine testified that he told Dailey at the scene and at the police station that he was not the driver.

After a one-day trial, the jury convicted Corbine of drunken driving and driving on a suspended license. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Corbine, acting without a lawyer, filed a motion for a new trial on the grounds that his defense attorney had failed to obtain a DVD that Dailey recorded at the police station. The police report said that upon arrival at the station, she inserted a DVD into video recorder to record her interaction with Corbine.

The report said that after Corbine was taken to the hospital, Dailey removed the DVD from the recorder, and that it was “logged, tagged and secured into evidence.”

In his motion, Corbine asserted the DVD would have shown that he told Dailey he was not the driver, which would have impeached Dailey’s trial testimony and damaged her credibility, prompting the jury to acquit him. Corbine attached a copy of a letter from his trial lawyer written to Corbine after the trial. In the letter, the defense lawyer acknowledged that he was aware of the video—though he never sought it or viewed it—but an unnamed source had described its contents. Based on that description, he believed the video was of dubious value because it showed Corbine being combative and clearly intoxicated and would have done “far more harm than good” even if it showed him denying that he was the driver.

After the prosecution told the judge the DVD could not be found and suggested it never existed in the first place, the trial judge denied Corbine’s motion without a hearing.

Corbine appealed—again without a lawyer—and in 2013, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court for a hearing. “This case hinged on the jury’s assessment of the witnesses’ credibility. … [I]f the jury had seen the DVD evidence disproving Dailey’s testimony that Corbine never told her he was not the driver…Dailey’s credibility would likely have been damaged. Because the witnesses’ credibility was key in this case, it is reasonably probable that admission of the DVD would have affected the outcome,” the appeals court ruled.

At the hearing, Corbine’s attorney confirmed that he called the tribal police and asked about the DVD and was told it could not be found. He admitted that he had not filed a motion seeking it and made no further efforts to obtain it.

The trial court again denied Corbine’s motion and ruled that his trial defense attorney had made a strategic decision not to pursue the DVD because it showed him intoxicated, belligerent and using profanity.

In February 2015, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed Corbine’s conviction and ordered a new trial. The court held that not only did Corbine’s lawyer fail to “adequately investigate the DVD, he failed to ask Corbine at trial whether he denied driving while at the jail or question Dailey regarding the DVD. A jury would undoubtedly view whether Corbine denied driving the day of his arrest as highly relevant to the credibility of the defense theory.”

In March 2015, Corbine was released on bond pending a retrial. On October 27, 2015, the prosecution dismissed the charges. Corbine sought compensation from the state of Wisconsin, but in 2016, the Wisconsin Board of Claims denied his claim.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 1/10/2017
State:Wisconsin
County:Sawyer
Most Serious Crime:Traffic Offense
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2007
Convicted:2011
Exonerated:2015
Sentence:6 years
Race:Native American
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:30
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No