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american lawyer media news service Dallas-The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has held that the fact that a trial judge previously allowed a witness to testify on particular scientific procedures doesn’t make that witness’s testimony scientifically reliable in another case. The state has the burden of proof at trial or, as in this case, at a revocation hearing, to show by clear and convincing evidence that a scientific theory or method is reliable, the court held in Hernandez v. State. “Trial courts are not required to re-invent the wheel in every trial,” the majority said in a per curiam opinion in which six of the judges joined. “However, some trial court must actually examine and assess the reliability of the particular scientific wheel before other courts may ride along behind. Some court, somewhere, has to conduct an adversarial gatekeeping hearing to determine the reliability of the given scientific theory and its methodology.” Once some trial courts have determined, through hearings, the scientific reliability and validity of a specific methodology for testing or implementing a scientific theory, other courts may take judicial notice of that fact, the opinion said. The court affirmed a 2-1 decision by the Texas 13th Court of Appeals that held that 105th District Judge J. Manuel Banales abused his discretion in revoking Arturo Chavez Hernandez’s probation based on scientific evidence that was not shown to be reliable. At issue in the case is the admissibility of results of a urinalysis using a machine called an ADX analyzer. The state alleged that Hernandez had testified positive for marijuana in January 1999. Hernandez pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in 1989 and was placed on probation for 10 years, but the state filed a revocation motion in 1999. “This guy had been on probation for nine-and-a-half years, and the judge said that he had tested positive for marijuana and sentenced him to prison for 10 years,” said Corpus Christi, Texas, solo practitioner Guy Williams, Hernandez’s attorney. “To me, that’s not justice.”

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