Reports documenting appellant’s absconding from probation and being convicted of crimes in another jurisdiction were properly admitted at appellant’s probation violation hearing. Appellant’s argument that he was denied his rights under the Confrontation Clause is not well-taken because the reports had sufficient indicia of reliability.
The trial court properly revoked his previously suspended sentence and imposed a four-year active sentence.
At issue are the admission of a Major Violation Report (MVR) and the Interstate Commission for Adult Supervision Offender Violation Report (ICOTS) at his probation revocation hearing.
“Warlick argues that the trial court’s consideration of the MVR and the ICOTS report violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process because there were insufficient indicia of reliability to establish good cause for proceeding without first affording him the opportunity of confrontation.”
Two reliability tests
“There are two tests ‘for determining whether the denial of the right to confrontation … [through the introduction of hearsay evidence] will comport with constitutional due process’ to support a finding of good cause. …
“Under the reliability test, ‘the hearing officer may admit testimonial hearsay “if it possesses substantial guarantees of trustworthiness.”’ … Examples of indicia of reliability for testimonial hearsay include ‘corroboration of accusers’ hearsay by third parties or physical evidence’ and ‘a probationer’s failure to offer contradictory evidence.’ …
“The second test, the ‘balancing test,’ ‘requires the court to weigh the interests of the defendant in cross-examining his accusers against the interests of the prosecution in denying confrontation.’ … Only one test must be satisfied.”
“The record supports the trial court’s conclusion that the MVR and ICOTS report satisfied the reliability test to establish good cause for admission. First, Warlick failed to offer contradictory evidence, a key indica of reliability. …
“As the trial court noted, the MVR and ICOTS report were corroborated by and consistent with information contained within other admitted documents: the VCIN [Virginia Criminal Information Network] report, the MVR addendum, and the North Carolina Public Safety offender form.
“All documents contained the same identifying information, like Warlick’s name, social security number, date of birth, FBI and DOC numbers, and home address.
“The information in the MVR – alleging that Warlick absconded – was supported by the fact that the court issued a capias in 2014 and the capias was not served until 2021. “In addition, the charges in the ICOTS report were corroborated by charges in the VCIN report.
“Along with reviewing the corroborating documents, the trial court heard testimony that the internal computer system containing the ICOTS report was secure and inaccessible to the public.
“In addition, the Chesapeake probation office regularly relies on ICOTS reports from other states.
“These facts, without contradictory evidence from Warlick, show that the trial court did not err in finding sufficient indicia of reliability to establish that the MVR and ICOTS report were trustworthy and, thus, finding good cause to admit them over appellant’s objection.”
Warlick v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1340-21-1, Oct. 25, 2022. CAV (Callins). From the Circuit Court of the City of Chesapeake (Brown). Meghan Shapiro for appellant. Rosemary V. Bourne, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-479, 6 pp.