Sweeny and others make Blazier and its progeny the Article 112a Evidentiary Standard

Sweeny and others make Blazier and its progeny the Article 112a Evidentiary Standard

Blazier II's decision was decided little over a year and a half ago, but has already been cited in numerous subsequent 112a (drug offense) courts martial. In United States v. Sweeney, the CAAF chastised lower appellate courts for their failure to distance themselves from Magyari, which had held that drug testing reports were nontestimonial; the court in Magyari concluded the testimony provided by the analysts were "routine" and of "unambiguous factual matters." Despite the ruling in Blazier to the contrary, lower appellate courts continued to rely on Magyari in order to overrule trial court refusals to admit drug testing reports without the testimony of the declarants.

In Sweeney, like in Blazier, an expert witness restated the opinions of the analysts who conducted the drug testing report. Although the defense counsel did not provide a timely objection to the testimony, CAAF still found grounds for reversal under the doctrine of plain error in that (1) there was an error (2) the error was plain and obvious and (3) the error materially prejudiced a substantial right of the accused.

The court has thus clarified the standard of testimonial hearsay as it relates to drug testing reports and expert testimony.

Citations:

United States v. Sweeney, 70 M.J. 296

United States v. Blazier, 69 M.J. 218

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