Robert J. Bratch
Jefferey A. Modisett
John B. Herriman
Jerry T. Drook
Marion, Indiana Attorneys for Appellee
Attorney General of Indiana
Deputy Attorney General
Robert J. Bratch
Jefferey A. Modisett
John B. Herriman
JIMMIE L. CARTER,
Appellant (Defendant below),
STATE OF INDIANA,
Appellee (Plaintiff below).
) Supreme Court No.
) Court of Appeals No.
evidence was admissible. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court.
Based on these test results, Defendant's probation officer filed a Petition for Revocation of Probation. On June 18, 1996, the trial court conducted a probation revocation hearing at which the State presented its evidence showing that Defendant tested positive for marijuana use. Among those who testified for the State was Tom Pulley (Pulley), the laboratory technician who administered Defendant's urine screen. Pulley testified as to his
experience and training in the use of urinalysis equipment and the procedures used in
administering the urinalysis. When the State sought to introduce the results of the urinalysis
into evidence as part of Pulley's testimony, Defendant objected to its admission on the
grounds that Pulley was not qualified to render expert testimony. However, the trial court
admitted the testimony over Defendant's objection. At the conclusion of the hearing, the
trial court found that, by twice testing positive for marijuana use, the Defendant had violated
the terms of his probation. Subsequently, the trial court terminated Defendant's probation
and ordered him to serve an additional one year of his suspended prison sentence.
Defendant appealed. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial
court erred in its admission of Pulley's testimony because the State failed to provide a
sufficient evidentiary foundation for the qualifications of Pulley and for the reliability of the
urinalysis equipment used. Carter v. State, 685 N.E.2d 1112, 1115 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997).
be sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in
which it belongs[ ], is taken from Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013,1014 (D.C. Cir. 1923).
The State contends that the Court of Appeals employed the wrong standard of evidence
governing the admission of expert testimony at probation revocation hearings. We agree.
It appears that the Court of Appeals decided to apply the Frye general acceptance
test for scientific evidence based on the following reasoning: First, Indiana Rules of
Evidence 403 and 702 supersede the Frye test. Second, the Rules of Evidence provide that
[t]he rules, other than those with respect to privileges, do not apply in . . . [p]roceedings
related to . . . sentencing, probation, or parole. Ind. Evidence Rule 101(c)(2). Third,
because the Rules of Evidence do not apply, common law rules in effect prior to the adoption govern.See footnote
And because the Frye test was the applicable common-law rule, the Court of
Appeals reasoned that reliance on Frye is still valid for probation matters. Carter, 685
N.E.2d at 1115 n.3.
We have disapproved such reasoning in another opinion decided today. In Cox v. State, No. 48S02-9802-CR-93 (Ind. Mar. 3, 1999), we make clear that in probation revocation hearings, judges may consider any relevant evidence bearing some substantial indicia of reliability. This includes expert testimony and scientific evidence. Of course, as we
made clear in Cox, judges are not bound to admit all evidence presented to the court. And,
in the absence of strict evidentiary rules, judges carry a special responsibility in assessing
the weight, sufficiency and reliability of proffered evidence. Id., slip op. at 9.
The Court of Appeals held that the State did not establish that the lab technician qualified as an expert and failed to establish the scientific reliability of the urinalysis equipment itself. Specifically, the Court of Appeals rejected Pulley's qualification as an expert because he could not explain the scientific basis for the test. Carter, 685 N.E.2d at 1115. As a lab technician responsible for the operation of urinalysis equipment, Pulley testified that he had been employed in this capacity for more than five years. In this period, Pulley testified that he tested more than ten thousand samples. Pulley further testified that he had received all of the training necessary to become an operator of the CIVASee footnote 3 urinalysis machine, attending CIVA schooling in California for four weeks. Moreover, he demonstrated that he possessed expertise in the use of the equipment, testifying as to the how the CIVA machine worked, how it was operated, how often it was tested, the substances it tested, and how the results of such tests were interpreted. Regardless of whether these credentials are sufficient to qualify Pulley as an expert under either the Frye test or the
Rules of Evidence, we find them adequate for consideration by a trial court under the
evidentiary standards applicable to probation revocation hearings.
As for the Court of Appeal's conclusion that the State failed to establish the scientific
reliability of the urinalysis equipment, we note Judge Friedlander's dissent where he
observed, [i]t is beyond debate that urinalysis has achieved a sufficient level of scientific
reliability to be accepted into evidence by our courts. Carter, 685 N.E.2d at 1117
(Freidlander, J., dissenting). Urinalysis technology is hardly novel and has become a
conventional means of drug-testing, the results of which have been deemed reliable in
Indiana courts. Cf. Penrod v. State, 654 N.E.2d 653, 654 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993)(ADX Abbott
and EMIT urinalysis systems have reached level of general acceptance in scientific
community to be generally admissible).See footnote
Given the evidentiary standards applicable to
probation revocation proceedings, we find no basis for reversing the trial court's admission
of the test results.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SELBY, and BOEHM, JJ., concur.
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