So I had this case where I (mom’s attorney) and the other parent’s attorney objected to a hair follicle drug test result being admitted. After acting “shocked” that such an objection would be raised the State was granted a continuance to get its witnesses present.
Interestingly enough hair follicle testing involves two branches as in my county there is a “collection site” that then sends the sample to a lab in Ohio for analysis. So the caseworker testified that she took the kid to the drug lab. An employee of the “collection site” drug lab testified as to the lab’s procedure on handling samples etc. although said employee could not verify that they had anything to do with this particular sample. An “expert” from the Ohio lab testified via phone about that lab’s procedures and the methodology and accuracy of the hair follicle test. He also testified that he had nothing to do with the storage or testing of the particular sample.
We (parents’ attorneys) cited to the caselaw about “chain of custody” and how everyone involved in the handling of the evidence must verify their “link” in the chain and that the State had verified no links as none of their witnesses (except the caseworker) testified that they handled this sample at all.
It was pointed out that these were criminal cases that we were citing to and we were overruled.
In a civil context what is the standard for “chain of custody”?
Also, while we’re at it, in many cases the only evidence of any drug test is the testimony of the caseworker. Caseworker gives a “pee in the cup” urine screen, “reads”/discerns the results and promptly throws away the pee-stained cup/test. A month, and even years, later the caseworker is testifying in court “I gave her a drug screen and she failed for X,Y,Z”. Sometimes the caseworker will “document it” by having the parents sign a form and I could see that being admissible but most of the time they don’t. So you have no test, no test results and thus no evidence of the efficacy of the test (and urine tests are notoriously unreliable).
Which brings up an interesting question.Should it be harder for the State to get entered into evidence the results of the far more accurate test (hair follicle)?