Evidence—Rule 702—Admissibility of Expert Opinion

State v. Bernstein,__Az. Adv. Rep__ 1 CA-SA 13-0285 (App. Dv. I, January 14, 2014) (J. Thumma)

ABSENT SHOWING OF INACCURACIES IN DEFENDANTS' TEST RESULTS OR IMPROPER TEST PROCEDURES, SHORTCOMINGS IN CHROMATOGRAPH DOES NOT PRECLUDE ADMISSION OF BAC MEASURMENTS

Defendants were charged with DUI and extreme DUI based on blood tests performed by the Scottsdale Crime Lab using a Clarus 500 gas chromatograph. After a 17 day evidentiary hearing the trial court granted defendants motion to preclude admission of the blood test results finding that newly amended Rule 702(d) and the accompanying Daubert standards were not met. The state brought this special action and the Arizona Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction and granted the state's requested relief finding the test results admissible and remanded the matter to the trial court.

Defendants objected to the admissibility of the evidence based upon the fact the Clarus had a track record of sometimes failing to produce usable test results yet was never taken out of service to correct these failures. The trial court found that because of this the test results in this case were inadmissible under Arizona Rule of Evidence 702(d): "the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case." The court of appeals found to the contrary because nothing was presented to suggest the occasional failure of the machine ever resulted in inaccurate or inflated results and most importantly in this case regarding these specific defendants there was no evidence that their test results were inaccurate or that the tests were performed improperly.

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