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Court of appeals rejects challenges to blood-urine form and lab report

State v. Christopher Drew Helwig, 2019AP448-CR, 6/4/20, District 4, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The circuit court admitted a blood/urine analysis form and lab report containing blood test results into evidence during Helwig’s OWI trial. On appeal Helwig argued that these documents were hearsay. And because the nurse who drew the blood did not testify at trial, the admission of these documents violated the Confrontation Clause. The court of appeals rejects both arguments.

If a blood, breath, or urine test is admissible in accordance with §343.305, it is admissible into evidence “by legislative edict.” State v. Disch, 119 Wis. 2d 461, 473, 351 N.W.2d 492 (1984). Helwig argued that this statute required his blood to collected according to procedure approved by the state laboratory of hygiene. The State argued that the statute simply required his blood to be drawn by a person authorized to draw blood.

The court of appeals noted that there are no cases addressing this issue. However, the State’s interpretation conformed to the plain language of the statute. Helwig’s did not. Opinion, ¶¶9-18.

Also, “Helwig forfeited any challenge to the blood/urine form  by not objecting to its admission before or during trial.” Opinion, ¶23.

As for the Confrontation Clause challenge to the blood test results, the court of appeals held:

¶32 Helwig’s argument is difficult to follow, in part because he does not explain how admission of the blood test result could implicate the Confrontation Clause at all. The lab report that was admitted at trial does not contain any statements (testimonial or otherwise) that were made by the nurse. It instead contains statements made by the lab analyst, and therefore that analyst, not the nurse, is the “declarant” whose absence could implicate the Confrontation Clause. See Crawford, 541 U.S. at 59. But as noted above, the analyst was present at trial and cross-examined by Helwig’s counsel

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