State v. Wilson

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 10-15-2014
  • Case #: A149315
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega P.J.; & Hadlock J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Admitting testimony from an officer trained as a drug-recognition expert (DRE) in the absence of an adequate scientific foundation is not in error because the testimony constitutes nonscientific expert opinion evidence.

Defendant appeals conviction of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), assault, criminal mischief, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment. Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s admission of testimony from a drug recognition expert (DRE) in absence of an adequate scientific foundation for that evidence. Defendant was driving with his girlfriend and son when he ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle. An officer arrived at the scene and observed that Defendant had "spider web, puffy, red, bloodshot eyes" as well as a strong odor of alcohol. A blood sample was tested twice and provided a BAC of .085 and .074. The trial court admitted the officer’s opinion that Defendant was under the influence of marijuana. Defendant argued that the testimony constituted scientific evidence for which the State had not laid a proper foundation establish scientific validity. The State argued that the court correctly admitted the testimony as nonscientific expert testimony. Here, the Court found that the officer did not testify about his certification as a DRE nor did he identify himself as a DRE. The officer only testified to his training and experience as related to marijuana. The Court held that the testimony in this case did not purport to draw its convincing force from principles of science; rather, it drew "its force from that training and experience." Defendant placed emphasis on the officer's use of "research" in his testimony. The Court noted that the testimony regarding research was brought up on cross-examination. Defendant cannot retroactively render the officers opinion inadmissible by eliciting information on cross examination. The Court held that the trial court did not err in admitting the officer's testimony as nonscientific expert opinion. Affirmed.

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