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Craven v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 20, 2019

SHAUN EVERTTE CRAVEN, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 337th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1481381

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Zimmerer and Hassan.

          OPINION

          Kem Thompson Frost Chief Justice.

         Appellant Shaun Evertte Craven appeals the trial court's judgment adjudicating guilt based on violations of the terms and conditions of his deferred adjudication community supervision. Appellant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in adjudicating guilt following a hearing at which the court permitted evidence appellant contends violated his right under the Sixth Amendment to be confronted with the witnesses against him. Concluding that appellant failed to preserve the issue for appellate review, we affirm.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Appellant pleaded "guilty" to possession of less than a gram of methamphetamine. The trial court deferred adjudication and placed appellant on community supervision for a period of two years. During that period, the State moved to adjudicate guilt on the basis of appellant's alleged violations of community-supervision terms and conditions, and, in particular, "[f]ailing to avoid injurious and vicious habits" such as the use of controlled substances, including methamphetamine. In the motion the State alleged that controlled substances were found "in a urine sample taken from [appellant] on December 14, 2016 at the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department."

         The trial court held a hearing on the State's motion to adjudicate appellant's guilt. In support of its failed-drug-test allegation, the State presented three witnesses and offered two exhibits pertaining to appellant's December 14, 2016 urine analysis.

         At the end of the hearing the trial court stated that it found the alleged violations concerning appellant's use of controlled substances to be true. On the same day, the trial court signed a written judgment adjudicating appellant's guilt for the original possession offense. In the judgment the trial court found that appellant violated the terms of his community supervision by committing an offense against the State of Texas, failing to avoid injurious or vicious habits, failing to report to the community-supervision officer, and failing to provide proof of employment. The trial court assessed appellant's punishment at two years' confinement.

         II. Issue and Analysis

         In his sole issue on appeal, appellant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the State's motion to adjudicate guilt because the only evidence offered in support of the motion violated his right under the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause to be confronted with the witnesses against him, as explained in Bullcoming v. New Mexico. See 564 U.S. 647, 663, 131 S.Ct. 2705, 2716, 180 L.Ed.2d 610 (2011) (finding a Confrontation-Clause violation where defendant was unable to cross examine a forensic analyst who performed or knew about the particular blood-alcohol test or testing process employed). As a threshold matter, we consider whether appellant preserved this error in the trial court.

         For an accused to preserve error as to an alleged violation of his right under the Confrontation Clause to be confronted with the witnesses against him, the accused must make a timely objection with enough specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint, unless the specific grounds are apparent from the context. See Tex. R. App. P. 33.1; Linney v. State, 401 S.W.3d 764, 772 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no pet.) ("The Constitution does not relieve a defendant from the obligation to comply with established rules of procedure and evidence designed to assure both fairness and reliability in the ascertainment of guilt and innocence."). Appellant voiced two objections during the hearing: (1) a hearsay objection to the admission of the urine-analysis results, and (2) during his closing statement appellant pointed to a recent United States Supreme Court case and stated that his Confrontation-Clause rights were violated.

         Hearsay Objection

         When the State offered the lab results into evidence, appellant's counsel stated "I would just object that it's hearsay, Judge. It's coming from a lab somewhere that this witness has no personal knowledge of." The complaint raised on appeal must comport with the objection raised at trial. Wilson v. State, 71 S.W.3d 346, 349-50 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002). Appellant does not complain about hearsay on appeal. Nothing about appellant's objection would have alerted the trial judge to his complaint on appeal that admitting the report violates appellant's rights under the Confrontation Clause or principles "under Bullcoming." See Paredes v. State, 129 S.W.3d 530, 535 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004) (recognizing that objections based on hearsay and on the Confrontation Clause are separate objections). Because appellant failed to raise a Confrontation-Clause objection at the time the trial court admitted the lab report into evidence, appellant waived this complaint. See id.; Wilson v. State, 71 S.W.3d at 349.

         Closing ...


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