Today at 11:00 a.m. the Arizona Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding whether to reinstate a trial court's finding that - blood alcohol measurements created by the Scottsdale Crime Lab are unreliable. You can read a history of this litigation by clicking here.
A case being selected by the Supreme Court for review is a rare event. Simple math shows it is unlikely that any particular case will be reviewed by the Arizona Supreme Court. The Court receives a substantial amount of “Petitions” to review lower court decisions, but it only selects a small percentage of them each year. However, because the issues in this case (it is actually a consolidation of 11 cases) will have wide-ranging consequences, it was an ideal case for the Court to review. The final ruling by the Court, regardless of who prevails, will likely affect how scientific evidence will be handled by Arizona courts for years to come.
While both parties have their own opinions as to what the key issues are, the Court will provide a summary and statement of the issues from their perspective prior to the oral argument. Last week, as expected, the Court issued its written statement. Below are the issues as stated in the Court’s summary:
1. Did the Court err by holding that Rule 702(d) challenges are excluded from judicial gatekeeping scrutiny under Arizona law?
2. Did the Court err in using the accuracy of the results as the criteria for a gatekeeping analysis instead of using the trustworthiness of the methodology used to generate the results?
3. Did the Court err in substituting its own judgment for the trial court’s without finding that the trial court’s decision constituted an abuse of discretion?
After reading this statement of the issues, one could jump to a conclusion from the way the issues are framed, that the Court is leaning in a particular the direction. A word of caution – no one knows how the court is leaning. The Court’s final opinion could easily list a different set of issues.
Today’s oral argument is being held at Arizona State University Law School. The argument is open to the public and starts promptly at 11:00 am. Everyone is welcome to attend – regardless of which side of the argument you are on.