State v. Jones, 012518 MESC, Aro-17-166

Docket Nº:Aro-17-166
Opinion Judge:GORMAN, J.
Attorney:Judgment affirmed. John W. Tebbetts, Esq. (orally), Presque Isle, for appellant Macie Jones John M. Pluto, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District No. 8, Caribou, for appellee State of Maine
Case Date:January 25, 2018
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

2018 ME 17




No. Aro-17-166

Supreme Court of Maine

January 25, 2018

Argued: November 14, 2017

Judgment affirmed. John W. Tebbetts, Esq. (orally), Presque Isle, for appellant Macie Jones

John M. Pluto, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District No. 8, Caribou, for appellee State of Maine



[¶1] Macie N. Jones appeals from a judgment of conviction for unlawful trafficking of a schedule W drug (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. §§ llO2(1)(A), HO3(l-A)(A) (2017), entered by the trial court (Aroostook County, Stewart, J.) after a jury trial. Jones argues that 17-A M.R.S. § 1112 (2017) is facially unconstitutional and that the court's admission of a lab certificate in lieu of live witness testimony pursuant to that statute was a violation of her right of confrontation. We conclude that section 1112 is facially constitutional, and we affirm the judgment.


[¶2] Viewing the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the State, the jury rationally could have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Cummings, 2017 ME 143, ¶ 12, 166 A.3d 996. On December 16, 2015, an agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arranged to use a confidential informant to make a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from a man who was the subject of an investigation. The purchase took place in Jones's vehicle, where Jones was present. During the transaction, Jones made various incriminating statements regarding her involvement in producing and selling methamphetamine, including that the drug the informant was purchasing was "better than anything we've made." Jones later admitted to law enforcement that she had been involved with obtaining the ingredients for and producing methamphetamine.

[¶3] Jones was indicted for unlawful trafficking of a schedule W drug (methamphetamine) (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. §§ 1102(1)(A), HO3(l-A)(A). She pleaded not guilty to the charge.

[¶4] The court conducted a jury trial on February 3, 2017. In its witness list provided before trial, the State named a forensic chemist as one of the witnesses it "may call" at trial. At trial, the State instead sought admission of the chemist's certificate stating that a drug analysis established that the substance the informant purchased on December 16, 2015, was in fact 136.1 milligrams of methamphetamine. The court admitted the certificate over Jones's objection, reasoning that Jones had not provided ten days' notice of her request for live testimony of the chemist in accordance with 17-AM.R.S. §1112.

[¶5] The jury found Jones guilty of the offense. The court entered a judgment on the verdict, sentencing Jones to forty-two months in prison with all but fifteen months suspended; two years of probation; and $635 in fines, restitution, and fees. Jones appeals.


[¶6] The sole matter at issue is the court's admission of the lab certificate identifying the substance exchanged in the controlled purchase as methamphetamine. The court admitted the lab certificate in lieu of the chemist's testimony pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. § 1112, which provides that a drug analysis certificate "is admissible in evidence in a court of the State, and gives rise to a permissible inference . . . that the composition, quality and quantity of the drug or substance are as stated in the certificate, unless, within 10 days['] written notice to the prosecution, the defendant requests that a qualified witness" provide live testimony of those facts.1 17-A M.R.S. §1112(1); see State v. Navarro, 621 A.2d 408, 412 (Me. 1993) ("Once the defendant requests a qualified witness, the certificate is neither admissible nor prima facie evidence of the composition, quality, and quantity of the drug or substance stated therein. Once the request is made, the State has the burden of producing a witness who can testify as to the analysis procedures and results." (citation omitted) (quotation marks omitted)). Jones agrees that she did not request, within ten days before trial, that the State produce a live witness to identify the drug, and therefore does not appear to challenge the State's or the court's compliance with section 1112. Rather, Jones contends that section 1112 is facially unconstitutional in that it violates the Confrontation Clause as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009). See U.S. Const, amend. VI.

[¶7] We review de novo the constitutionality of a statute, Doe v. Williams, 2013 ME 24, ¶ 11, 61 A.3d 718, giving the statute a "heavy presumption of constitutionality, " League of Women Voters v. Sec'y of State, 683 A.2d 769, 771 (Me. 1996). As the party challenging the facial constitutionality of the statute, it is Jones's burden to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is "no set of circumstances" in which the statute may operate in a constitutional manner. Guardianship of Chamberlain, 2015 ME 76, ¶ 10, 118 A.3d 229 (quotation marks omitted); see League of Women Voters, 683 A.2d at 771-72.

A. Confrontation Clause Rights

[¶8] The Confrontation Clause-applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment-requires that "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right... to be confronted with the witnesses against him."2 U.S. Const, amends. VI, XIV; see Melendez-Diaz, 557 U.S. at 309; State v. Murphy, 2010 ME 28, ¶ 9, 991 A.2d 35. The Supreme Court has characterized the Confrontation Clause as a "procedural rather than a substantive guarantee, " stating, "It commands, not that evidence be reliable, but that reliability be assessed in a particular manner: by testing in the crucible of cross-examination." Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 61 (2004); see Murphy, 2010 ME 28, ¶ 11, 991 A.2d 35. To that end, the Confrontation Clause prohibits the "admission of testimonial statements of a witness who did not appear at trial unless he was unavailable to testify, and the defendant had had a prior opportunity for cross-examination." Crawford, 541 U.S. at 53-54.

[¶9] The Supreme Court has further clarified what is "testimonial" according to the nature and purpose of the evidence, defining "testimony" as any "solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact." Id. at 51 (quotation marks omitted). Thus, the "core class of testimonial statements" includes (1) "ex parte in-court testimony or its functional equivalent" such as "affidavits, custodial examinations, prior testimony that the defendant was unable to cross-examine, or similar pretrial statements that declarants would reasonably expect to be used prosecutorially"; (2) "extrajudicial statements contained in formalized testimonial materials, such as affidavits, depositions, prior testimony, or confessions"; and (3) "statements that were made under circumstances which would lead an objective witness reasonably to believe that the statement would be available for use at a later trial." Id. at 51-52 (alteration omitted) (quotation marks omitted).

[¶10] In Melendez-Diaz, the Supreme Court considered the Confrontation Clause implications of a Massachusetts statute that allowed prosecutors to have admitted in evidence a certificate of the lab analysis identifying the quality, quantity, and type of drugs in lieu of the live testimony of the chemist who performed that analysis. 557 U.S. at 308-09. In that case, the defendant was charged with distributing and trafficking in cocaine. Id. at 308. At trial, the prosecution offered three "certificates of analysis" from forensic analysts at the state laboratory, identifying as cocaine the substance found in the defendant's possession during a search. Id. (quotation marks omitted). In accordance with the statute, the court admitted the certificates as prima facie evidence of the composition, quality, and quantity of the substance analyzed. Id. at 308-09. The defendant was convicted of the offenses without any live testimony as to the type and quantity of drugs seized from him. Id. at 309.

[¶11] The Supreme Court determined that the certificates-sworn to before a notary public-were "quite plainly affidavits, " and therefore constituted testimonial statements subject to Confrontation Clause protection. Id. at 308, 310. The Court therefore concluded that, as with any other forms of testimony, "[a]bsent a showing that the analysts were unavailable to testify at trial and that [the defendant] had a prior opportunity to cross-examine them, [the defendant] was entitled to be confronted with the analysts at trial." Id. at 311 (quotation marks omitted). On that basis, the Supreme Court reversed the defendant's conviction and...

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