CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: Discovery, subpoena, fishing expedition: Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Lennie G. House (SC 8/27/2009)

Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Lennie G. House
2008-SC-000114-DG August 27, 2009
Opinion by Justice Abramson. All sitting; all concur.

House entered a conditional guilty plea to DUI charges, reserving his right to appeal the district court’s ruling that quashed his subpoena duces tecum for the computer source code of the Intoxilyzer 5000—the device used by police to measure alcohol concentration in the bloodstream. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction. On appeal to the Supreme Court, House argued that his expert should be allowed to review the source code for programming “bugs” that could lead to inaccurate results.

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the conviction, holding that House had produced no evidence whatsoever to suggest the source code was flawed and that the subpoena amounted to an impermissible “fishing expedition.” Because House did not file a cross-motion for discretionary review, the Court declined to address his argument that the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment entitled him to access the source code.