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State v. Jeffries

Supreme Court of Montana

February 6, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
ANNA-GRACE JEFFRIES, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: December 13, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DC-2017-0067 Honorable John W. Larson, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Martin W. Judnich, Vincent J. Pavlish, Judnich Law Office, Missoula, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F. Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Jim Nugent, City Attorney, Angela Suzanne Robertson-Bakken, Deputy City Attorney, Missoula, Montana

          OPINION

          Laurie McKinnon Justice.

         ¶1 Anna-Grace Jeffries (Jeffries) appeals from an order of the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, affirming the Missoula Municipal Court (Municipal Court). The Municipal Court denied Jeffries's motion to exclude breath evidence in a Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) proceeding against her. We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the dispositive issue as:

         Did the Municipal Court abuse its discretion by denying Jeffries's motion to exclude breath evidence?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 In the early morning of March 24, 2016, Missoula Police Officer Kamura observed Jeffries driving with no taillights and initiated a traffic stop. Jeffries's vehicle had a large portion of its front bumper missing, only one operational headlight, and was dripping fluid. Further investigation revealed recent property damage along Jeffries's route where pieces of her vehicle were left behind. Upon contact, Officer Kamura noticed Jeffries's speech was slurred. Jeffries admitted to having two or three mixed drinks several hours earlier. While assisting Officer Kamura, Missoula Police Officer Jensen also noticed Jeffries's speech was slurred and noted additionally that her eyes were bloodshot, she was unsteady on her feet, and her breath smelled strongly of alcohol. Jeffries's performance on Standard Field Sobriety Tests indicated she was impaired. Officer Jensen arrested Jeffries and transported her to the Missoula County Detention Center. Jeffries provided a breath sample on the Intoxilyzer 8000, which indicated she had an alcohol concentration of 0.217. The City of Missoula (the City) charged Jeffries with aggravated DUI, failure to have operational headlights and taillights, failure to carry proof of insurance, and failure to give notice of an accident causing property damage.

         ¶4 During discovery, Jeffries requested information about the Intoxilyzer 8000 used to take her breath sample. Specifically, she requested production of the calibration and testing records for the three months prior to March 24, 2016, any dates it was taken out of service, and any reason it was removed from service. The City provided this information to Jeffries. Additionally, Jeffries requested production of all Computer Online Breath Records Archive (COBRA) data for the Intoxilyzer 8000 for the twelve months prior to March 24, 2016. The City did not possess or have access to the COBRA data requested and did not provide this information to Jeffries. Jeffries filed a motion to compel this disclosure. Jeffries did not request the printed records for the Intoxilyzer 8000 for the twelve months prior to March 24, 2016. The State of Montana Forensic Science Division maintains the printed records.

         ¶5 Jeffries filed a motion in limine to exclude her Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test results or dismiss her DUI charge as a sanction against the City for failing to produce the requested COBRA data. In her motion to exclude, Jeffries argued the City intentionally spoliated, or destroyed, the COBRA data she requested by not purchasing software that would allow the City to access it and by periodically deleting the Intoxilyzer 8000's internal memory card. Alternatively, relying on California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 104 S.Ct. 2528 (1984), and Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51, 109 S.Ct. 333 (1988), Jeffries argued the City violated her due process rights by not purchasing software that would allow the City to access COBRA data and by periodically deleting the Intoxilyzer 8000's internal memory card.

         ¶6 The Municipal Court held an evidentiary hearing on Jeffries's motion to exclude. Benjamin Vetter (Vetter), the director of the Breath Alcohol Program at the State Crime Lab, testified that an Intoxilyzer 8000 is a computer manufactured by CMI, Inc., (CMI) and approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that uses infrared technology to conduct breath analysis of suspected impaired drivers. Vetter testified that CMI sells software that allows COBRA data to be transferred from an Intoxilyzer 8000's internal memory card and accessed online, but Montana does not have this type of software. Regardless of the type of software used, each Intoxilyzer 8000 saves information for every breath test it completes on an internal memory card. In Montana, the internal memory card of each Intoxilyzer 8000 is deleted annually during regularly conducted maintenance. If an Intoxilyzer 8000's internal memory card fills up prior to its annual maintenance, new test results automatically overwrite older tests. Vetter explained that at the time the State purchased the Intoxilyzer 8000s it currently uses, the State did not have the infrastructure, dedicated phone lines or Internet access, or money to purchase the COBRA-transferring software.

         ¶7 Vetter testified that after an Intoxilyzer 8000 performs a breath test, it typically prints several copies of the test results on a Breath Analysis Report Form, suitably referred to as "BARF." A BARF contains the serial number of the Intoxilyzer 8000 performing the test; the time, date, and location of the test; and the test taker's name, date of birth, and sex. A BARF lists the test sequence results, which include several air blanks, several diagnostic and calibration tests, and the breath volume and amount of alcohol detected from two separate breath samples of the test ...


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