ILNews

COA: Breathalyzer certificate is not testimonial

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

For the first time since the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2009 ruling that found a defendant had a Sixth Amendment right to confront the analysts who prepared lab certificates certifying the defendant had cocaine, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a trial court did not violate the defendant’s right to confrontation by allowing the inspection certificate for a breathalyzer into evidence, even though the certifier of the equipment did not testify at trial.

In Francisco J. Ramirez v. State of Indiana, No. 65A01-0911-CR-543, finding the inspection certificate was not testimonial evidence within the purview of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), and Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct. 2527 (2009), the Court of Appeals affirmed Francisco J. Ramirez’s conviction of Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

On Oct. 18, 2008, Ramirez was arrested for drunk driving and failed a field sobriety test after he was pulled over by a Mount Vernon Police Department officer. The officer had observed Ramirez was swerving and used his radar to find Ramirez was driving 8 mph over the posted speed limit.

After he was pulled over, Ramirez failed three field sobriety tests. He then agreed to a breath test on a BAC DataMaster, which printed a ticket that showed his blood alcohol content was .09.

At trial, the state introduced Ramirez’ breath test results and an official certificate of compliance that verified the officer’s DataMaster had been examined Aug. 12, 2008, and had been found to satisfy the requirements of Department of Toxicology Regulations. The director at the Department of Toxicology had signed the certificate.

Ramirez argued because the certificate showed the DataMaster’s results would be accurate, not being able to cross-examine the certifier disqualified the DataMaster printout as evidence.

Following Crawford, and prior to Melendez-Diaz, the Court of Appeals continued to find that certificates of compliance for breathalyzers were not testimonial, according to today’s opinion for Ramirez.

“We reasoned in part that (1) the certificates are not prepared at a judicial proceeding or during police interrogation, Rembusch, 836 N.E.2d at 982, (2) the certificates are not sworn affidavits and do not contain formalized testimonial materials, id., and (3) although inspection certificates are prepared for purposes of criminal litigation, ‘certification of breath-test machines is removed from the direct investigation or direct proof of whether any particular defendant has operated a vehicle while intoxicated; the certificates are not prepared in anticipation of litigation in any particular case or with respect to implicating any specific defendant.’ Jarrell, 852 N.E.2d at 1026 (citations omitted),” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

Following the decision of Melendez-Diaz, Judge Vaidik continued, the Court of Appeals still finds that the certificate for a breathalyzer is still not testimonial in nature. She cited the Supreme Court’s decision, which addressed certificates for lab equipment.

In her dissent, Senior Judge Betty Barteau agreed in result, but disagreed “with the majority’s conclusion that the State’s Certificate of Inspection and Compliance of Breath Test Instruments … is nontestimonial in nature. I therefore conclude that admission of that document violated Ramirez’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him.”

Judge Barteau then compared the case to the 2009 Indiana Supreme Court decision Pendergrass v. State, 913 N.E.2d 703 (Ind. 2009), in which the Indiana Supreme Court determined a certificate of analysis from a DNA lab technician was testimonial in nature, citing Melendez-Diaz.

Judge Barteau also wrote in the Ramirez case the error was harmless because there was enough other evidence for a jury to convict Ramirez of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in a manner endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor, based on the observations of the officer, who did testify at trial.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. All the lawyers involved in this don't add up to a hill of beans; mostly yes-men punching their tickets for future advancement. REMF types. Window dressing. Who in this mess was a real hero? the whistleblower that let the public know about the torture, whom the US sent to Jail. John Kyriakou. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/us/ex-officer-for-cia-is-sentenced-in-leak-case.html?_r=0 Now, considering that Torture is Illegal, considering that during Vietnam a soldier was court-martialed and imprisoned for waterboarding, why has the whistleblower gone to jail but none of the torturers have been held to account? It's amazing that Uncle Sam's sunk lower than Vietnam. But that's where we're at. An even more unjust and pointless war conducted in an even more bogus manner. this from npr: "On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk." The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier." Today, the US itself has become lawless.

  2. "Brain Damage" alright.... The lunatic is on the grass/ The lunatic is on the grass/ Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs/ Got to keep the loonies on the path.... The lunatic is in the hall/ The lunatics are in my hall/ The paper holds their folded faces to the floor/ And every day the paper boy brings more/ And if the dam breaks open many years too soon/ And if there is no room upon the hill/ And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too/ I'll see you on the dark side of the moon!!!

  3. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  4. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  5. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

ADVERTISEMENT