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State v. Harris

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-18-2013
Case #: A149158
Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149158.pdf

Evidence: Under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is an error of law to admit evidence against a defendant when the defendant does not have an opportunity to confront the evidence presented against her.

Defendant appealed the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant violated her probation that prohibited her from consuming alcohol. At Defendant’s probation revocation hearing, the State introduced two urinalysis test reports indicating the Defendant consumed alcohol while on probation and testimony by Defendant’s probation evaluator about the contents of the urinalysis reports. Defendant objected to that evidence, arguing that under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, she had a right to confront the lab technician who prepared the urinalysis reports. The trial court ruled against Defendant’s objection and concluded the State did not need to produce the lab technician for cross-examination, and as a result held that Defendant violated her probation. On appeal, the Court applied a balancing test weighing four factors to determine that the admission of the State’s evidence, the two urinalysis reports and the testimony by the probation evaluator, was an error of law. The Court considered that there was some indicia of reliability with the urinalysis reports, however, it was not sufficient to overcome Defendant’s substantial interest in confrontation. Therefore, because Defendant was not able to confront the lab technician, Defendant had no effective way to challenge the evidence that was presented against her and was deprived of her right to due process. Reversed and Remanded.