e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 73794
Opinion Date : 09/10/2020
e-Journal Date : 09/14/2020
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : People v. Fontenot
Practice Area(s) : Criminal Law
Judge(s) : Tukel and Murray; Dissent - Ronayne Krause
Full Text Opinion

Whether the DataMaster logs were nontestimonial & admissible as business records under MRE 803(6); Confrontation Clause; U.S. Const. amend. VI; Crawford v. Washington; Williams v. Illinois; People v. Nunley; People v. Jambor; MI Admin Code R 325.2653(3); People v. Hardiman


Holding that the DataMaster logs were nontestimonial and admissible as business records under MRE 803(6), the court vacated the district court’s order denying the prosecution’s motion in limine and remanded. The logs, “which are generated through breath tests administered by police officers conducting alcohol-related investigations,” in this case “were created before defendant’s breathalyzer test to prove the accuracy of the DataMaster machine; they were not created for the purpose of prosecuting defendant specifically; thus, they did not ‘accus[e] a targeted individual of engaging in criminal conduct.’” Further, they “were also created as part of the Michigan State Police’s normal administrative function of assuring that the DataMaster machine produces accurate results.” Additionally, they “would have been checked for proper functioning even if defendant had not been tested with it.” Thus, the primary purpose of the Class IV operator’s “testing the DataMaster’s accuracy was to comply with administrative regulations,” and to “ensure its reliability for future tests—not to prosecute defendant specifically.” As such, the “logs were nontestimonial and the trial court erred by holding that they were testimonial.” Also, they are business records under MRE 803(6). The Michigan State Police keep the logs “‘in the course of a regularly conducted business activity’ and it is ‘the regular practice of that business activity to make the . . . record’ as required by the administrative DataMaster regulations.” Although they “are occasionally presented at trials, they are not prepared for the purpose of litigation, but rather, because the administrative regulations require the keeping of such a log.” Thus, they are admissible under MRE 803(6).

Full Text Opinion