Blanks v. State, No. 1050, Sept. Term, 2015.

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtEYLER, DEBORAH S., J.
Citation228 Md.App. 335,137 A.3d 1074
Decision Date02 June 2016
Docket NumberNo. 1050, Sept. Term, 2015.
PartiesRichard L. BLANKS v. STATE of Maryland.

228 Md.App. 335
137 A.3d 1074

Richard L. BLANKS
v.
STATE of Maryland.

No. 1050, Sept. Term, 2015.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

June 2, 2016.


137 A.3d 1076

Amy E. Brennan (Paul B. DeWolfe, on the brief) Baltimore, MD, for appellant.

Robert A. Taylor (Brian E. Frosh, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, on the brief) Baltimore, MD, for appellee.

Panel: DEBORAH S. EYLER, WOODWARD and BERGER, JJ.

EYLER, DEBORAH S., J.

228 Md.App. 338

This case raises the question whether the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in

228 Md.App. 339

Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004), applies in a probation revocation hearing. We hold that it does not. We further hold that the right to confront witnesses as protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does apply and was satisfied in this case.

On November 14, 2011, in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County, Richard Blanks, the appellant, entered an Alford plea to a charge of robbery.1 The court sentenced him to 15 years' incarceration, with all but 279 days suspended, and imposed a 5–year period of supervised probation.

As relevant here, over two years later, on March 20, 2014, Blanks admitted to having violated his probation by possessing drug paraphernalia (a crime for which he had been charged and convicted in the District Court). His probation was revoked and he was sentenced to serve his suspended sentence of 14 years and 86 days,2 with all but the 218 days (time served) suspended. The court imposed a new five-year term of probation. The probation order required Blanks to comply with “All Standard Conditions,” which included reporting “as directed” to his supervising parole and probation agent (condition 1) and not using any controlled dangerous substances (condition 8). Under the “Special Conditions” section of the probation order, Blanks was ordered to “[t]otally abstain from alcohol, illegal substances, and abusive use of any prescription drug” (condition 16).

Travis Knapp, an agent with the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation (“P & P”), was assigned to supervise Blanks's probation. He directed Blanks to report to the Cambridge P & P Office for a face-

137 A.3d 1077

to-face meeting twice a week and, in addition, to either call or use a kiosk machine to report once per week. Blanks was required to submit to drug

228 Md.App. 340

testing twice a week and was referred to an addictions counseling program.

On January 27, 2015, during an in-person visit at the P & P Office, Knapp directed Blanks to provide a urine sample for random drug testing. John Cannon, an agent assistant with P & P, watched Blanks urinate into a sampling container. Blanks closed the container and followed Cannon into his office. There, Blanks initialed an adhesive tamper-proof seal marked with a specimen number. Cannon placed the seal on the top of the lid of the sampling container and directed Blanks to press the seal tightly around the edges of the lid. Cannon held open a plastic bag and Blanks placed the sealed container inside the bag.

Cannon completed a chain of custody form for the sample. He verified that the form included the same specimen number as the seal on the container. Blanks and Cannon both signed and dated the chain of custody form. Cannon put the chain of custody form in the plastic bag with the sampling container and sealed the bag. Cannon dropped the plastic bag in a UPS drop box for delivery to Phamatech Inc. (“Phamatech”), a laboratory in San Diego, California.

Six days later, on February 3, 2015, Knapp received a report from Phamatech stating that Blanks's January 27, 2015 urine sample had tested positive for the presence of marijuana. The next day, Knapp requested that a warrant be issued for Blanks's arrest for violation of conditions 8 and 16 of his probation pertaining to the use of drugs or alcohol.

On February 11, 2015, Blanks called Knapp and asked him why there was an active warrant for his arrest. Knapp advised Blanks of the positive urinalysis result. He directed Blanks to come to the P & P Office that day or the following day, February 12, 2015. Blanks asked Knapp if “it would be ... an additional violation” if he did not come in. Knapp replied that it would be. Blanks did not report to the P & P Office that day or the next day. He eventually turned himself in on February 18, 2015. The next day, Knapp filed in the circuit court a “Supplemental Report” adding a charge for

228 Md.App. 341

violating condition 1, alleging that Blanks failed to report as directed on February 12, 2015.

On May 21, 2015, the circuit court held a probation revocation hearing. The State called three witnesses: Knapp, Cannon, and Ken Kodama, Phamatech's laboratory director. Knapp and Cannon testified about the facts as we have recounted them. During Cannon's testimony, the State introduced into evidence the chain of custody form. In his case, Blanks recalled Knapp.

Kodama testified that he holds a B.S. degree and, at the time of the hearing, had worked in the field of toxicology for twenty-nine years and had been the director of the laboratory at Phamatech for thirteen years. Without objection, he was accepted by the court as an expert in toxicology and in urinalysis testing for the presence of controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”). Kodama explained that Blanks's urine was twice screened for marijuana using the enzyme multiple immunoassay technique (“EMIT”). It tested positive both times. It then was retested using the gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry (“GCMS”) technique, which also yielded a positive result. Over Blanks's objection, a February 2, 2015 Phamatech report (“Exhibit 2”) reflecting the EMIT urinalysis test results, and including a certification of accuracy for the two EMIT tests and the GCMS test, signed by Kodama, was admitted into evidence.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court found that Blanks had violated his

137 A.3d 1078

probation by 1) failing to report to Knapp at the P & P Office by the close of business on February 12, 2015, and 2) using marijuana. The court revoked Blanks's probation and ordered him to serve the remaining portion of his suspended sentence—13 years, 7 months, and 20 days—with the commencement date of his sentence backdated to February 18, 2015, to give him credit for time served.

Blanks filed an application for leave to appeal, which this Court granted by order of September 8, 2015. He presents two questions for review, which we have rephrased as follows:

228 Md.App. 342
I. Did the circuit court violate Blanks's confrontation rights by admitting Exhibit 2 into evidence?

II. Did the circuit court err by finding that Blanks violated his probation by failing to report to his probation agent by the close of business on February 12, 2015, as directed?

DISCUSSION

I.

Admission of Exhibit 2

(a)

Exhibit 2 is a one-page laboratory report. Its header gives Phamatech's name and address. Below the header is a section with the following information: the “Agent/Monitor” (Knapp); the “Agency” (P & P); the “Collection Site” (Off 61)3 ; the “Division Number” (0170042A); the “Client” (Maryland P & P—Cambridge Field Office); and the “Collector” (Cannon). It is apparent that this information was drawn from the chain of custody form Cannon prepared.

The next section of Exhibit 2 is titled “Sample Information.” It includes Blanks's name, sex, and SID number; the “Specimen ID” assigned to his urine sample by Phamatech; the ID number assigned to the “Lab Sample” drawn from his urine sample; the type of sample (i.e., urine); the date and time the urine sample was collected at the P & P Office; the date and time the urine sample was received by Phamatech; and the date and time the Phamatech report was issued.

The test results for the sample are set out in a table in Exhibit 2. The column labeled “Test” shows that Blanks's urine sample was subjected to an “EMIT SCREEN” for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, and marijuana; a creatinine levels test; and a “MARIJUANA EMIT RE–SCREEN.”

228 Md.App. 343

The “ Result” column reflects “POSITIVE” results for the two EMIT marijuana tests, negative results for the EMIT for the other drugs, and an “ABNORMAL” creatinine level.4 A column labeled “Quantitation”5 is blank for the marijuana tests, as are columns labeled “Screen Limit” and “GCMS Limit.”

The bottom section of Exhibit 2, entitled “CERTIFICATION OF ANALYSIS,” reads:

This is to certify that Phamatech to include its facilities, personnel, and procedures, is certified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene—Office of
...

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13 practice notes
  • State v. Esquilin, AC 38762
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • January 30, 2018
    ...App.) writ denied, 904 So.2d 681 (La. 2005) ; Commonwealth v. Wilcox , 446 Mass. 61, 841 N.E.2d 1240, 1243 (2006) ; Blanks v. State , 228 Md.App. 335, 137 A.3d 1074, 1087 (2016) ; People v. Breeding , 284 Mich.App. 471, 772 N.W.2d 810, 812 appeal denied, 485 Mich. 917, 773 N.W.2d 261 (2009)......
  • State v. Fears, No. 17–CA–67
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • April 16, 2018
    ...(App.2007) (probation revocation proceeding is not "a stage of a criminal prosecution" and thus does not implicate the Sixth Amendment). 228 Md.App. 335, 351–352, 137 A.3d 1074, 1083–1084 (2016). Accord , State v. Esquilin, 179 Conn.App. 461, 179 A.3d 238 (2018), at n. 10. (since Crawford "......
  • Kougl v. Bd. of Liquor License Comm'rs for Balt. City, No. 935, Sept. Term, 2015.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 2, 2016
    ...regulate obscenity, a class of unprotected speech that is not clearly defined in First Amendment jurisprudence. See generally 137 A.3d 1074 Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 20, 93 S.Ct. 2607, 37 L.Ed.2d 419 (1973) (summarizing “the somewhat tortured history of the Court's obscenity decisi......
  • Johnson v. State, No. 1134, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 29, 2020
    ...Brown v. State , 317 Md. 417, 422, 564 A.2d 772 (1989) ; State v. Fuller , 308 Md. 547, 552, 520 A.2d 1315 (1987) ; Blanks v. State , 228 Md. App. 335, 353, 137 A.3d 1074 (2016) ; Thompson v. State , 156 Md. App. 238, 245, 846 A.2d 477 (2004) ; Wilson v. State , 70 Md. App. 527, 532, 521 A.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • State v. Esquilin, AC 38762
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • January 30, 2018
    ...App.) writ denied, 904 So.2d 681 (La. 2005) ; Commonwealth v. Wilcox , 446 Mass. 61, 841 N.E.2d 1240, 1243 (2006) ; Blanks v. State , 228 Md.App. 335, 137 A.3d 1074, 1087 (2016) ; People v. Breeding , 284 Mich.App. 471, 772 N.W.2d 810, 812 appeal denied, 485 Mich. 917, 773 N.W.2d 261 (2009)......
  • State v. Fears, No. 17–CA–67
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • April 16, 2018
    ...(App.2007) (probation revocation proceeding is not "a stage of a criminal prosecution" and thus does not implicate the Sixth Amendment). 228 Md.App. 335, 351–352, 137 A.3d 1074, 1083–1084 (2016). Accord , State v. Esquilin, 179 Conn.App. 461, 179 A.3d 238 (2018), at n. 10. (since Crawford "......
  • Kougl v. Bd. of Liquor License Comm'rs for Balt. City, No. 935, Sept. Term, 2015.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 2, 2016
    ...regulate obscenity, a class of unprotected speech that is not clearly defined in First Amendment jurisprudence. See generally 137 A.3d 1074 Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 20, 93 S.Ct. 2607, 37 L.Ed.2d 419 (1973) (summarizing “the somewhat tortured history of the Court's obscenity decisi......
  • Johnson v. State, No. 1134, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 29, 2020
    ...Brown v. State , 317 Md. 417, 422, 564 A.2d 772 (1989) ; State v. Fuller , 308 Md. 547, 552, 520 A.2d 1315 (1987) ; Blanks v. State , 228 Md. App. 335, 353, 137 A.3d 1074 (2016) ; Thompson v. State , 156 Md. App. 238, 245, 846 A.2d 477 (2004) ; Wilson v. State , 70 Md. App. 527, 532, 521 A.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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