(Madison Circuit Court, CC-16-1084; Court of Criminal
PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF
QUASHED. NO OPINION.
Parker, C.J., and Wise, Bryan, and Stewart, JJ., concur.
and Shaw, JJ., concur specially.
Sellers, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., dissent.
Justice (concurring specially).
concur to quash the writ of certiorari.
petitioner, Cary Trant Jefferson, was convicted of murder and
was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. The evidence at
trial indicated that Jefferson shot Doris Timmons, rendering
her a quadriplegic, and that she died three months later. At
no point during trial was there an issue raised as to whether
the gunshot was the actual cause of Timmons's
record demonstrates that, during voir dire, the State
indicated that it was going to offer the autopsy report on
the victim into evidence through the testimony of Dr. Valerie
Green, who prepared the report. During trial, the State
instead called Carl Mauterer, the director of the Alabama
Department of Forensic Sciences' Huntsville laboratory.
It is clear from the record that Mauterer's testimony was
limited to establishing a foundation for the report to be
considered a "business record" for purposes of Rule
803(6), Ala. R. Evid., as an exception to the general rule
forbidding hearsay testimony. The contents of the report were
not discussed. When the State moved to have the report
admitted into evidence, Jefferson's trial counsel
"[DEFENSE COUNSEL:] Your Honor, the Defendant has the
following objections as to the admission thereof.
"First of all, it is hearsay. Second of all, it is not
properly authenticated under Rule 901[, Ala. R. Evid.].
"Most importantly, it deprives Mr. Jefferson of his
right to confront the witnesses against him under the Sixth
Amendment of the United States Constitution.
"And lastly, that there is an insufficient predicate
laid for the offering of the doctor's underlying opinion
in terms of her expertise."
State responded that Mauterer had provided a sufficient
evidentiary predicate to establish that the report was a
business record. The trial court then asked defense counsel:
"[D]o you want to cross-examine the witness before I
rule or do you want me to rule now?" Defense counsel
stated that he was "prepared for [the trial court] to
rule," and the trial court overruled the objections. The
autopsy report was admitted into evidence, and its contents
were never subsequently mentioned on the record.
time Jefferson lodged his objections, Alabama law held that
the admission of an autopsy report sometimes violates a
defendant's Confrontation Clause rights as described in
Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), see
Smith v. State, 898 So.2d 907, 916
(Ala.Crim.App.2004), and sometimes does not, see Perkins
v. State, 897 So.2d 457, 463-65
(Ala.Crim.App.2004). Whether it did or did not depended on the
information contained in the autopsy report and the
relationship between that information and the State's
burden of proof. Smith, 898 So.2d at 915-17. But at
the time the autopsy report in the instant case was offered
into evidence, there was no testimony about its
contents: Mauterer testified only as to whether the
autopsy report was a business record. Defense counsel was
then offered the opportunity to cross-examine Mauterer, but
declined to do so.
dissenting opinion, Justice Sellers engages in an analysis of
what the autopsy report stated; how it was relevant to
proving the cause of Timmons's death; what the decision
in Crawford and the subsequent decisions in
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009),
and Bullcoming v. New Mexico, 564 U.S. 647 (2011),
deem as testimonial evidence to which the Confrontation
Clause would apply; and how those dots can be connected to
provide that the admission of the autopsy report here
violated Jefferson's rights. None of this was
provided to the trial court by Jefferson when he lodged his
objection. No further objection or discussion of the
Confrontation Clause issue was provided to the trial court
before its judgment was entered and Jefferson was sentenced.
Without suggesting what the scope of a proper objection
should have been in this case, I note only that a
sufficiently specific objection was necessary. Mitchell
v. State, 913 So.2d 501, 505 (Ala.Crim.App.2005)
("To preserve an issue for appellate review,
the issue must be timely raised and specifically presented to
the trial court and an adverse ruling obtained. The
purpose of requiring an issue to be preserved for review is
to allow the trial court the first opportunity to
correct any error." (second emphasis
added)). In this case, however, the bare-bones
objection that the introduction of the autopsy report
violated the Confrontation Clause, with no argument to
apprise the trial court of the specific and complicated
inquiry required in this case, was not meritorious on its
face when the contents of the autopsy report had not been,
and never were, discussed on the record. The trial court may
have ruled differently had Justice Sellers's analysis and
the analysis provided by Jefferson on appeal actually been
provided by Jefferson at trial, but I cannot hold the trial
court in error for failing to consider an argument never
"I would hold that, (1) because the trial court did not
have the opportunity to consider [Jefferson's]
contention, (2) because [the State] did not have the
opportunity at the proper time to rebut it, and (3) because
judicial economy would have best been served if the
contention had first been addressed below, that issue was not
preserved for review on appeal."
parte Knox, 201 So.3d 1213, 1221 (Ala. 2015) (Shaw, J.,
concurring in the result) (footnote omitted). In light of ...