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Ephedrine database allowable under business record hearsay exception

May 30, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday that a National Precursor Log Exchange report documenting the purchases of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine by a defendant are allowed into evidence under the business record exception to the hearsay rule.

In Jeffrey Embrey v. State of Indiana, 82A01-1211-CR-494, Jeffrey Embrey was charged with and convicted of Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine, Class C felony neglect of a dependent and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance after U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force executed a warrant on a person believed to be living where Embrey lived. The officers found evidence of meth manufacturing and that Embrey and his child lived in the home.

Indiana law requires that retailers selling non-prescription ephedrine and pseudoephedrine electronically submit a record of all sales of products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to the NPLEx as part of the retailer’s regularly conducted business activity. The report introduced at Embrey’s trial showed all his purchases of the drugs in the month prior to his arrest and noted that he had been refused sales several times.

The computerized NPLEx database is maintained by Appriss, Inc. Embrey argued that the NPLEx report shouldn’t have been admitted because James Acquisto, the custodian of records for Appriss, didn’t have firsthand knowledge of the recorded transactions.

“We conclude that the NPLEx report is imbued with an independent indicia of trustworthiness, and, as such, qualifies as a business record,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the court. “The information contained in the NPLEx report was submitted to the NPLEx database in the course of the retailers’ regular business activity at the time of the purchase or attempted purchase by employees of the retailers who had firsthand knowledge of the transactions. These submissions were made by individuals who, in the routine course of their employment, had a duty to accurately report the information and could be held criminally liable for a knowing or intentional failure to make an accurate report.”

“Because the individuals submitting the information had both firsthand knowledge of the purchases or attempted purchases as well as a duty to accurately report the purchases or attempted purchases, we conclude that Acquisto, as custodian of the records, was not required to have firsthand knowledge of the purchases or attempted purchases,” he continued.

The judges also found sufficient evidence supported that the child found in the home by the officers was Embrey’s child and affirmed his neglect of a dependent conviction.



 

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