Friday, May 24, 2013

KYSC - Meskimen - Statements & Hair Comparison

In Meskimen v. Commonwealth, 2011-SC-000709-MR (rendered 4/25/13) (to be published)

The Court considered Meskimen’s motion to suppress a series of pre-trial statements, and held that the defendant’s request to be taken to the hospital during the initial questioning did not clearly and unequivocally invoke his right to remain silent.  Nor was the defendant “so intoxicated as to reach the point of mania or give an unreliable statement,” such that the Court would consider his statement involuntary.  Nor did the Court consider the actions of the police in refusing to take the defendant to the hospital, even though his skull was fractured so badly as to require four days of hospitalization, two of which were in the ICU, to be coercive.

In addition, the Court did not consider the failure of the trial judge to hold a Daubert hearing on the reliability of hair comparison evidence to be an error in this case, relying on its earlier holding in Johnson v. Commonwealth, 12 S.W.3d 258, 261 (Ky. 1999).  The Court cautioned, however, “[E]ven though case law may be in acceptance of a certain method of analysis, it is the trial court's duty to ensure that method is supported by scientific findings, or at least not seriously questioned by recent reputable scientific findings, before taking judicial notice of its acceptability.”

The issues were preserved by Shannon Brooks-English, of the Fayette County Trial Office.  Tom Ransdell was the appellate attorney.

Contributed by Kathleen Schmidt