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Crawford holding doesn’t apply to probation revocation hearings

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The Indiana Supreme Court rejected a man’s argument Thursday that he should be afforded the same right of confrontation in his probation revocation hearing as is outlined in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004).

Robert Smith was on home detention through Marion County Community Corrections when the community supervisor manager alleged eight counts of violations, including testing positive for drugs. At a hearing on the allegations, the state was allowed to enter into evidence Exhibit 1, which consisted of five lab reports showing Smith tested positive for cocaine and marijuana on five separate occasions, and an affidavit from Megan Jones, the supervisor of the lab that performed the tests. She attested to the positive results of the test.

Smith argued that admitting that evidence violated his due process right to confrontation and it was not reliable because it only spoke of general lab procedures and not specific results.

Smith’s community-corrections placement was revoked, and he was ordered to serve time in the Department of Correction. He has since been released. Because of this, the judges did not address his claim the court erred in not giving him good credit time.

The justices only addressed Smith’s right to confrontation argument, in which he argued that the high court should find his due process right to confrontation requires confrontation as defined in Crawford.

“We reject the argument that Smith’s due process right to confrontation should be the same right to confrontation as defined in Crawford for purposes of the Sixth Amendment; more-over, we reject any argument that Crawford changed the due process analysis we employ in revocation proceedings,” Justice Frank Sullivan wrote.

The justices adopted the “substantial trustworthiness” test in Reyes v. State, 868 N.E.2d 438, 440 n.1 (Ind. 2007), for determining when hearsay evidence should be admitted at probation revocation hearings. In Smith’s case, his due process rights to confrontation weren’t violated by the admission of Exhibit 1 because the evidence supports the trial court’s finding that it was substantially trustworthy. The trial judge found Jones’ affidavit to be reliable.

 

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