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City of Jamestown v. Hanson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

October 13, 2015

City of Jamestown, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Jason Michael Hanson, Defendant and Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of Stutsman County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable Thomas E. Merrick, Judge.

Kara E. Brinster, Assistant City Attorney, Jamestown, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

Michael R. Hoffman, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellant.

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. I concur in the result Daniel J. Crothers. Opinion of the Court by Kapsner, Justice.

OPINION

Page 196

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Justice.

[¶1] A jury found Jason Hanson guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. He appeals from the criminal judgment and the district court's denial of his motion for a new trial. We affirm the judgment.

I

[¶2] A Jamestown police officer pulled Hanson's vehicle to the side of the road after the officer observed the vehicle make a slow, wide turn and cross the street's center line. The officer asked Hanson to perform field sobriety tests, and Hanson agreed. After Hanson performed the tests, the officer placed him under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. The officer then transported Hanson to the Stutsman County Correctional Center. At the correctional center, the officer read Hanson the implied consent advisory and requested Hanson submit to an Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test. Hanson indicated he believed he had no choice in the matter, and he submitted a breath sample. The City then charged Hanson with driving with a blood-alcohol content of at least .08% by volume and driving under the influence.

[¶3] Before trial, Hanson moved to suppress evidence of the Intoxilyzer test on grounds that the implied consent advisory coerced him into consenting. The district court denied his motion. During trial, the City called a forensic scientist employed by the state crime lab. Over Hanson's foundation and hearsay objections, the forensic scientist testified regarding

Page 197

the Intoxilyzer 8000 testing procedures. The City then handed the forensic scientist a record of Hanson's Intoxilyzer test and asked her whether she thought it was a valid test. The forensic scientist responded that she could not be sure because she was not present when the test was performed, but if the test record was accurate, she would consider the test valid.

[¶4] The City then offered the test record into evidence. Hanson objected claiming the City had laid an insufficient foundation for the test record. Hanson argued the City did not submit documents showing that the methods, devices, or individual who administered the Intoxilyzer test had been approved by the state crime lab director or the director's designee pursuant to the requirements of N.D.C.C. § 39-20-07. The court sustained Hanson's objection, refused to admit the test record, and acquitted Hanson of the driving with a blood-alcohol content of .08% or greater charge. The case was submitted to the jury, and the jury found Hanson guilty of driving under the influence. Hanson subsequently moved for a new trial. The court denied his motion, and he appeals.

II

[¶5] Hanson raises two issues on appeal. He argues the district court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence, and the court erred when it allowed the forensic scientist to testify regarding Intoxilyzer 8000 testing methods and the results of Hanson's Intoxilyzer test.

[¶6] " A district court's denial of a motion for a new trial is reviewed under the abuse-of-discretion standard." Estate of Gassmann,2015 ND 188, ¶ 23, 867 N.W.2d 325 (citing Rittenour v. Gibson,2003 ND 14, ¶ 13, 656 N.W.2d 691). A district court's admission of evidence is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion. S.L.W. v. Huss,2014 ND 169, ¶ 8, 852 N.W.2d 367. " A court abuses its discretion when it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable manner, when it misinterprets or misapplies the law, or when ...


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