State v. Rawls

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBefore PETERS; SHEA; In this opinion PETERS, C.J., and KLINE; DANNEHY; SANTANIELLO
Citation198 Conn. 111,502 A.2d 374
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Bobby Lee RAWLS.
Decision Date17 December 1985

Page 374

502 A.2d 374
198 Conn. 111
STATE of Connecticut
v.
Bobby Lee RAWLS.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
Argued Oct. 2, 1985.
Decided Dec. 17, 1985.

[198 Conn. 112] Robert A. Lacobelle, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on brief, was Donald A. Browne, State's Atty., for appellee (state).

[198 Conn. 111] John W. Watson, Asst. Public Defender, with whom, on brief, was Joette Katz, Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

Before PETERS, C.J., and SHEA, DANNEHY, SANTANIELLO and KLINE, JJ.

[198 Conn. 112] SHEA, Associate Justice.

After a jury trial, the defendant, Bobby Lee Rawls, was convicted of two counts of possession of narcotics in violation of General

Page 375

Statutes § 19-481(a). 1 The defendant was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on one count, and to a consecutive sentence of seven years on the other count with execution suspended after one year, making a total effective sentence of fourteen years, suspended after eight, with five years probation. 2 The court, Callahan, J., subsequently modified the sentences to run concurrently. From this judgment, the defendant appeals claiming (1) that he was denied the right to confront the witnesses against him as to the analysis of the drugs, and (2) that multiple convictions for the simultaneous possession of cocaine and heroin violated his rights under the double jeopardy clause of the United States constitution. 3[198 Conn. 113] 3] We are persuaded only by the double jeopardy claim.

On August 9, 1981, at approximately 3:30 a.m., members of the Bridgeport police department conducted a raid at an after hours club. While in the club, a police detective observed the defendant place a black pouch on the bar and begin to walk toward an exit. The defendant was then stopped and asked to return to the bar where he had left the pouch. The detective inspected the bag and found a yellow spoon with a white powder residue, two glassine envelopes, a plastic bag and a film container all of which held a white powder substance. The defendant was arrested for possession of narcotics.

At trial, the state offered Charles Reading, a state toxicologist, to testify as to the nature of the substances that were contained in the black pouch. Reading was qualified as an expert in the field of toxicology and described the testing procedures used to determine the contents of the pouch. On the basis of the test results, he concluded that the residue on the spoon and the substances in the plastic bag and in the film container were cocaine, and that the powder in one of the glassine envelopes was heroin.

I

The defendant claims, for the first time on appeal, that he was denied the right to confront witnesses against him as guaranteed by the sixth and fourteenth amendments to the United States constitution and article[198 Conn. 114] first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution. 4 The defendant's claim relates to the testimony of Reading concerning the testing procedures used upon the substances in the black pouch. He

Page 376

argues that, because Reading did not perform the actual tests on the substances and did not provide the court with adequate indicia of reliability for his statements, his testimony consisted of inadmissible hearsay evidence which deprived the defendant of his right to confront the witnesses against him. We do not agree because the defendant, by his failure timely to raise such an objection at trial, waived his confrontational rights.

At trial, after Reading testified that the contents of the bag were indeed narcotics, the state concluded its questioning. At no time during the direct examination did the defense counsel object to Reading's testimony. Defense counsel initiated cross-examination by confirming that Reading did not perform the tests himself. At that point, the trial court asked the state's attorney if he intended to offer the toxicological report into evidence. The state's attorney responded, "I had intended to offer it to [sic] the last witness." After defense counsel concluded cross-examination, the state rested its case. After a brief recess, the defendant also rested.

At the close of the evidence, the defendant for the first time objected to Reading's testimony by way of his motion for judgment of acquittal. Claiming that the "whole evidence of the drugs should go out," he objected to the evidence on hearsay grounds. Defense [198 Conn. 115] counsel recognized that he had failed to object during the examination of Reading, but explained the omission by his misunderstanding of the statement of the state's attorney that he intended to introduce the report through the "last" witness. Defense counsel, as well as the trial court, interpreted the statement to mean that the report would be offered through another witness. Despite this misinterpretation, the court denied the defendant's motion.

Even if it were assumed that the testimony in question was hearsay, 5 the admission of hearsay evidence does not necessarily violate the confrontation clause. In California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149, 155-56, 90 S.Ct. 1930, 1933-34, 26 L.Ed.2d 489 (1970), the United States Supreme Court noted that "[w]hile it may readily be conceded that hearsay rules and the Confrontation Clause are generally designed to protect similar values, it is quite a different thing to suggest that the overlap is complete and that the Confrontation Clause is nothing more or less than a codification of the rules of hearsay and their exceptions as they existed historically at common law.... Merely because evidence is admitted in violation of a long-established hearsay rule does not lead to the automatic conclusion that confrontation rights have been denied." See note, "Confrontation and the Hearsay Rule," 75 Yale L.J. 1434, 1436 (1966); State v. Brigandi, 186 Conn. 521, 531, 442 A.2d 927 (1982); State v. Cosgrove, 181 Conn. 562, 577, 436 A.2d 33 (1980); McCormick, Evidence (3d Ed.1984) § 252.

In State v. Cosgrove, supra, 578, 436 A.2d 33, we declared that where hearsay evidence is offered, the proper focus of [198 Conn. 116] the court's concern is whether there are adequate "indicia of reliability" to justify placing such evidence before the jury. See Mancusi v. Stubbs, 408 U.S. 204, 213, 92 S.Ct. 2308, 2313, 33 L.Ed.2d 293 (1972); Dutton v. Evans, 400 U.S. 74, 81, 91 S.Ct. 210, 215, 27 L.Ed.2d 213 (1970). Further, we noted that any such hearsay must " 'afford the trier of fact a satisfactory basis for evaluating the truth of the prior statement.' " State v. Cosgrove, supra, 181 Conn. at 571, 436 A.2d 33; California v. Green, supra, 399 U.S. at 161, 90 S.Ct. at 1936. We concluded that the admission of a toxicological report, prepared in the regular course of laboratory business, containing

Page 377

statements by a testing chemist who fails to testify, does not violate the defendant's right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him, provided that the report is introduced through a witness who can furnish a basis for its reliability.

The gravamen of the defendant's claim is not that the failure to call the chemists who actually performed the tests rendered Reading's testimony inadmissible or denied the defendant his right to confront the witnesses against him. The defendant recognizes that Cosgrove makes such an argument untenable. He argues, rather, that his confrontational rights were violated because Reading's testimony did not establish "adequate indicia of reliability," as is necessary for admission under Cosgrove. He cited the state's failure to mention the names of the testing chemists and to prove that Reading supervised the testing chemists in analyzing the substances seized from the defendant, two components of reliability that were present in Cosgrove. The defendant does not contend that the state had to call further witnesses against him. He argues merely that the state's ambiguous statement induced him prematurely to terminate his cross-examination of Reading, in the mistaken belief that another witness would provide the needed assurances of reliability.

[198 Conn. 117] Throughout the examination of Reading, the defendant never objected to the testimony as to the narcotic content of the substances. As he claims, the defendant may have presumed that the subsequent admission of the toxicological report, through a witness who would provide the necessary foundation and assurances of reliability, would render any hearsay objection ineffective under the rule articulated in Cosgrove. See State v. King, 187 Conn. 292, 309, 445 A.2d 901 (1982); State v. Reardon, 172 Conn. 593, 599, 376 A.2d 65 (1977). However, the mere fact that Reading's testimony might have been inadmissible hearsay does not inexorably lead to the conclusion that the defendant's confrontational rights were violated. The primary interest secured by confrontation is "the right of cross-examination." Douglas v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 415, 418, 85 S.Ct. 1074, 1076, 13 L.Ed.2d 934 (1965); State v. Randolph, 190 Conn. 576, 591, 462 A.2d 1011 (1983).

The defendant's right to cross-examine Reading was not restricted. In fact, the defendant elicited from this witness that he did not actually test the drugs. The jury could reasonably have drawn inferences, unfavorable to the state, from that testimony. The defendant did not inquire as to who actually performed the tests, nor whether the tests were performed according to standard toxicological practice. Further, he chose not to cross-examine Reading extensively.

Therefore, the essence of the defendant's claim is that the state...

To continue reading

Request your trial
80 practice notes
  • State v. Hearl, AC 39463
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • May 29, 2018
    ...the individual acts separately or to punish only the course of action which they constitute." (Emphasis in original.) State v. Rawls , 198 Conn. 111, 121, 502 A.2d 374 (1985). "The issue, though essentially constitutional, becomes one of statutory construction." (Internal quotation marks om......
  • State v. Flynn, Nos. 4132
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 5, 1988
    ...the issue should be resolved in favor of lenity and against turning a single transaction into multiple offenses." State v. Rawls, 198 Conn. 111, 122, 502 A.2d 374 [14 Conn.App. 20] Because we hold that the crimes of interference with an officer and assault on an officer constitute the same ......
  • State v. Greco, No. 13864
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 14, 1990
    ...432 U.S. at 165, 97 S.Ct. at 2225. "The issue, though essentially constitutional, becomes one of statutory construction." State v. Rawls, 198 Conn. 111, 120, 502 A.2d 374 (1985); State v. Madera, 198 Conn. 92, 109, 503 A.2d 136 (1985). " ' "Double jeopardy analysis in the context of a singl......
  • State v. Madera
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • December 17, 1985
    ...not militate against treatment of a single act of arson resulting in the death of multiple victims as separate offenses under § 53a-54d. [198 Conn. 111] There is error in accepting the plea of nolo contendere with conditions that could not be fulfilled under our procedures; the judgment is ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
80 cases
  • State v. Hearl, AC 39463
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • May 29, 2018
    ...the individual acts separately or to punish only the course of action which they constitute." (Emphasis in original.) State v. Rawls , 198 Conn. 111, 121, 502 A.2d 374 (1985). "The issue, though essentially constitutional, becomes one of statutory construction." (Internal quotation marks om......
  • State v. Flynn, Nos. 4132
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 5, 1988
    ...the issue should be resolved in favor of lenity and against turning a single transaction into multiple offenses." State v. Rawls, 198 Conn. 111, 122, 502 A.2d 374 [14 Conn.App. 20] Because we hold that the crimes of interference with an officer and assault on an officer constitute the same ......
  • State v. Greco, No. 13864
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 14, 1990
    ...432 U.S. at 165, 97 S.Ct. at 2225. "The issue, though essentially constitutional, becomes one of statutory construction." State v. Rawls, 198 Conn. 111, 120, 502 A.2d 374 (1985); State v. Madera, 198 Conn. 92, 109, 503 A.2d 136 (1985). " ' "Double jeopardy analysis in the context of a singl......
  • State v. Madera
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • December 17, 1985
    ...not militate against treatment of a single act of arson resulting in the death of multiple victims as separate offenses under § 53a-54d. [198 Conn. 111] There is error in accepting the plea of nolo contendere with conditions that could not be fulfilled under our procedures; the judgment is ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT