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State v. Martin
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
January 11, 2019
State of Alabama
from Autauga Circuit Court (CC-17-149)
Martin was indicted for chemical endangerment of a child,
see § 26-15-3.2, Ala. Code 1975. Martin filed a
pretrial motion to suppress the urine and meconium test
results obtained by Baptist Medical Center South in
Montgomery, Alabama, following the birth of her
child. On April 26, 2018, after a hearing, the
circuit court issued an order granting the motion to
suppress. The State appeals.
hearing on the motion to suppress, Martin challenged the
admissibility of the test results based on two grounds: (1)
that the results were unreliable and not properly
authenticated pursuant to Rule 901, Ala. R. Evid.; and (2)
that the results were obtained during an unconstitutional
search under the Fourth Amendment. In response, the State
argued and the circuit court held as follows:
"[Prosecutor]: As to the defense's lack of
authenticity argument, the State would argue that it's an
untimely argument. This is an evidentiary matter. And whether
or not the State can authenticate the documents is something
that we're going to get to at trial. We're going to
subpoena witnesses at that point, we're going to subpoena
the people from the lab, if necessary, to authenticate the
results, to explain the procedure to the jury. So we believe
that the lack of authenticity argument is untimely.
Additionally, it meets the business records exception to the
Hearsay Rule. Even if this Court were to decide, at the time
of trial, that it did not meet such a hearsay exception, we
could offer that drug screen, not for the truth of the
matter, but to show its effect on law enforcement or on what
the hospital staff did as a result of the positive test.
"THE COURT: Why would that be relevant?
"[Prosecutor]: Well, I believe that treatment to some
extent or monitoring is required if a baby tests positive for
controlled substance. And so the medical staff would have
treated the baby accordingly.
"THE COURT: I think the problem you've got really is
one that you're not addressing, and that is the very face
of the test says that it's not--has not been confirmed,
has not been conducted by the hospital, they don't
conduct the test. It says in plain black and white that
it's not to be used for legal--you know, it's not
intended to be. It has not been confirmed. They don't say
it's not reliable, but they say everything but, that
it's not reliable. It's not approved by the FDA.
There has to be some indicia of reliability before the Court
gets the evidence that could frankly turn the issues in the
case. And I think [defense counsel's] point is well taken
concerning the very face of the test itself. If you want to
talk to me about that, I would certainly be happy to hear
what you have to say.
"[Prosecutor]: The law still allows for its admission
under the business records exemption of the Hearsay Rule, As
"THE COURT: I disagree with you on that.
"[Prosecutor]: --we can call the individuals that
conducted the test, the methods that they used, how reliable
their tests are. This is not a document that speaks for
itself. We're going to have to call a witness to
authenticate the document and that witness is going to
explain to the jury why what they do is correct and why the
"THE COURT: You're going to get somebody from Warde
"[Prosecutor]: Yes, Judge.
"THE COURT: Where are they?
"[Prosecutor]: I have no idea. But if they're
required, Judge, we will ...
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