Commonwealth v. Banko

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions based on an automobile crash the defendant was involved in while he was intoxicated. The defendant claimed that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation when it permitted testimony from a laboratory technician to testify regarding blood alcohol content results generated in the course of the defendant’s hospital treatment after the crash. The Superior Court offered a thorough review of prior cases, including Crawford v. Washington, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Bullcoming v. New Mexico, and Commonwealth v. Barton-Martin. Based on those cases, the defendant argued that the primary purpose of the laboratory technician’s testimony was to create an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony. But the trial court observed that the machine on which the defendant’s blood was analyzed “did not conduct its analysis in preparation of the trial, but rather for medical purposes only, as it states on the toxicology report. Accordingly, these tests are conducted and results maintained in the regular course of business.” The Superior Court agreed, finding that the primary purpose of the defendant’s BAC testing was neither to establish nor to prove past events relevant to a later criminal prosecution but rather was for the defendant’s medical treatment. Therefore, the testimony presented at trial was not testimonial.

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