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State v. Robinson

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

October 21, 2013

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MARY E. ROBINSON, Defendant.

Submitted: October 14, 2013

Zachary Rosen, Esquire Deputy Attorney General Delaware Department of Justice Attorney for the State.

Jonathan Layton, Esquire Layton & Associates, P.A. Attorney for Defendant

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The Honorable Carl C. Darberg, Judge.

Defendant Mary E. Robinson (hereinafter "Robinson") was arrested on September 7, 2011, and charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUI), Failure to Stop at a Red Light, and Driving with a Suspended/Revoked License. Laboratory tests performed on her blood sample came back positive for the drug Alprazolam. On July 2, 2013, Ms. Robinson's counsel, Jonathan Layton (hereinafter "Layton"), filed a Motion in Limine, alleging that the State failed to comply with a June 4, 2013 Order requiring the State to submit clarifying documents related to toxicologist Jessica Smith's (hereinafter "Smith") report on Ms. Robinson's blood. Mr. Layton also alleged that the State's response did not comply with the Court's June 4, 2013 Order in that the response provided only two statistics and a definition, rather than an "opinion" from Ms. Smith regarding the significance of the findings from the initial laboratory report. Mr. Layton argues that the State's failure to provide necessary information prevents the defense from properly preparing its case, and requests that the Court preclude any testimony at trial from Ms. Smith or any representative from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The State countered the Motion by stating that the June 20, 2013 email contains the necessary information to satisfy the requirements under Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 16 (hereinafter "Rule 16") and D.R.E. 702, 703, and 705, as the State: 1) identifies the expert witness, and 2) provides the defense with the entirety of Ms. Smith's testimony. The State specifically noted that it would not seek any testimony from Ms. Smith that falls outside of the information provided in the email. On July 16, 2013, the Court held a hearing on the Motion and requested submissions from the parties on the sole issue of whether the email complies with Rule 16(a)(1)(E).

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Defendant Mary E. Robinson was arrested on September 7, 2011, after a traffic accident, and charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUI), Failure to Stop at a Red Light, and Driving with a Suspended/Revoked License. Following the accident, Ms. Robinson was transported to Christiana Hospital, where she received treatment for injuries sustained in the accident. While admitted, a member of the hospital staff drew a sample of her blood at the request of Sergeant Daniel Parks of the Delaware State Police. About two months following Ms. Robinson's hospitalization, the results of her blood test came back; Ms. Robinson tested positive for the presence of a Benzodiazepine cross-reactive known as Alprazolam (trade name Xanax).

On May 2, 2012, Mr. Layton requested from Deputy Attorney General Karin M. Volker the identity of all expert witnesses the State intended to call at Ms. Robinson's trial, along with written documentation regarding the substance of each witness' testimony, in accordance with Rule 16(a)(1)(E).

The State responded to Mr. Layton's request by providing a laboratory report indicating the results of the tests performed on Ms. Robinson's blood. According to the report, Ms. Robinson's blood was tested on November 11, 2011 by Jessica Smith, M.S. (hereinafter "Smith"), a toxicologist employed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The blood tested positive for Alprazolam.

At trial on June 4, 2013, Mr. Layton presented an oral Motion in Limine, alleging that the laboratory report provided by the State was insufficient in that it failed to provide the substance of the opinions to be expressed by Ms. Smith at trial, as required by Rule 16(a)(1)(E). The Court ordered the State to provide the substance of the opinions to Mr. Layton by June 18, 2013.

The State sent Mr. Layton an email on June 20, 2013. The email was a forward from an email sent by Jessica Smith to the State. Within the email, Ms. Smith included a description of the substance found in Ms. Robinson's blood and the drug's common effects when ingested, along with two statistics from a toxicology textbook regarding the blood concentrations of individuals found to be driving under the influence of Alprazolam. Ms. Smith also stated the concentration of the drug found in Ms. Robinson's blood, and applied that concentration to the statistics provided in the prior section of her email.

Ms. Robinson, through her counsel Mr. Layton, filed a written Motion in Limine on July 2, 2013, stating that Ms. Smith should be precluded from testifying at trial because the State responded to the Court's Order two days after the deadline, and the response provided did not comport with the standards and requirements imposed by Rule 16(a)(1)(E) and D.R.E, 702, 703, and 705. Ms. Robinson alleges that the information provided prevents her and her counsel from properly preparing for trial.

The Court held a hearing on the Motion on July 16, 2013, and as a result, requested briefing from the State and a response from the defense on the issue of the email and its compliance with Rule 16(a)(1)(E). The Court then continued the trial ...


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