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Name: People v. Espinoza
Case #: B283895
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 05/14/2018

Expert’s testimony that she relied on “Ident-A-Drug” website to identify pills as controlled substances was properly admitted because it came within the published compilation exception to the hearsay rule and was not testimonial. Espinoza was charged with drug possession in a jail facility and related offenses based on evidence that he had pills hidden on his person when he entered jail as an inmate. A criminalist examined the pills and relied on Ident-A-Drug, an Internet drug reference website, to opine that the pills were methadone and clonazepam. Espinoza did not offer evidence in his defense. A jury found him guilty of possessing controlled substances and other offenses. On appeal, he argued that the criminalist’s testimony was testimonial hearsay and inadmissible under People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665. Held: Affirmed. Evidence Code section 1340 provides that evidence of a published compilation is not made inadmissible by the hearsay rule if the compilation is generally used and relied upon as accurate in the course of a business as defined in section 1270. Here, the criminalist testified that Ident-A-Drug was an authoritative resource used by criminalists and doctors to identify tablets and pills. Agreeing with the analysis in People v. Mooring (2017) 15 Cal.App.5th 928, the Court of Appeal determined that the Ident-A-Drug website was a published compilation within the meaning of section 1340. The court also agreed with Mooring’s conclusion that Ident-A-Drug was not testimonial because it contained generic data about pharmaceutical pills and its primary purpose was not to gather or preserve evidence for a criminal prosecution. A chemical analysis was not required as that potential evidence goes to the weight, not the admissibility, of the testimony.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: