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U.S. v. SNYDER

February 20, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
V.
JAMIE M. SNYDER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard G. Munson, Senior U.S. District Judge.

MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER

Currently before the court is a Petition for Warrant of Summons for Offender Under Supervision (Probation Form 12C) recommending revocation of the term of supervision for defendant Jamie M. Snyder.*fn1

BACKGROUND

On July 6, 2000, defendant was sentenced by this court to three years of probation after pleading guilty to a charge of Possession of an Unregistered Firearm in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). In addition to the standard conditions of probation, the court imposed the following additional special conditions: (1) defendant shall serve six months of home detention; and (2) defendant shall submit to drug/alcohol testing and treatment as directed by the Probation Office of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York ("Probation Office").
On July 12, 2000, defendant reviewed the conditions of his probation with Mark Walker, Senior United States Probation Officer ("P.O. Walker"). Defendant acknowledged that he fully understood and would comply with the conditions. P.O. Walker also provided defendant with a copy of the conditions for his records.
On July 17, 2000, defendant commenced his term of home detention and he remained under monitoring until January 17, 2001. During this period of home detention, defendant's compliance with the electronic monitoring program was marginal. On several occasions, defendant failed to answer his telephone during the time that he was required to be at home. Additionally, defendant cut off his electronic transmitter at 12:02 a.m. on January 17, 2001 without permission.
As another special condition to his probation, defendant was required to submit to drug/alcohol testing as directed by the Probation Office. Defendant failed to report for required drug testing on several occasions. As a sanction for these violations and in addition to continued urinalysis testing, the Probation Office began testing defendant using the PharmChek sweat patch ("sweat patch") on October 20, 2000. The Probation Office uses sweat patch testing as either a sanction or as an alternative to urinalysis in situations where an offender fails to provide a urine specimen.
On November 3, 2000, the Probation Office received notification of a positive test result for cocaine on a sweat patch. On November 8, 2000, P.O. Walker and Timothy Keohane, Supervising United States Probation Officer ("Supervising P.O. Keohane"), questioned defendant about his drug use during an Administrative Conference. Defendant denied using cocaine or any other illegal drug and admitted only to occasional alcohol use. During the Administrative Conference, the Probation Office referred defendant to Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare ("SBH") for a substance abuse evaluation.
On November 20, 2000, defendant commenced outpatient substance abuse treatment at SBH. Defendant failed to report for treatment sessions on November 28, 2000 and December 22, 2000. As a result, his treatment level was increased to intensive outpatient, resulting in daily treatment sessions.
On January 3, 2001, defendant and his father, Darren Francisco, met with P.O. Walker and members of the SBH staff for a second Administrative Conference. During the discussion, defendant refused to admit that he had used cocaine during the course of his probation.
On January 8, 2001, defendant met with P.O. Walker and members of the SBH staff for a treatment meeting. SBH counselors advised defendant that if he admitted using drugs, they would refer him to an inpatient facility. Defendant refused to do so, and SBH terminated defendant's treatment because they were unable to treat him without an admission of drug use.
On July 28, 2001, defendant failed to report for a drug test in a timely manner and was subsequently unable to provide a urine specimen. On August 2, 2001, defendant produced a urine specimen to make up for the previous failure. On August 15, 2001, the Probation Office received word that the results of the urinalysis were positive for marijuana. On August 17, 2001, defendant was confronted with the results of the test and he admitted using marijuana at a rock concert during the end of July.
In addition to the specific instances discussed above, defendant has violated the terms of his probation on numerous other occasions. Since defendant was sentenced by this court on July 6, 2000, he has failed to report for a drug test on five different occasions, in violation of Special Condition No. 2.*fn2 Additionally, defendant submitted a positive sweat patch to the Probation Office on a total of eight different occasions, in violation of Standard Condition No. 7.*fn3

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Revocation of a Term of Supervised Release

Under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 383(e)(3), the court may revoke a term of supervised release if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated a condition of the supervised release.

II Violations
A. Number 1 — Submission of a Positive Sweat Patch
As previously stated, defendant submitted eight sweat patches that were positive for cocaine, in violation of Standard Condition No. 7. Prior to a Violation Hearing scheduled for April 9, 2001, defendant challenged the use of sweat patches for drug testing purposes. Defendant based his challenge on a similar issue raised in United States v. Stumpf, 54 F. Supp.2d 972 (D. Nevada 1999).
In Stumpf, defendants filed a motion in limine to exclude the admissibility of sweat patch test results from proceedings to revoke their supervised release. Judge Pro held that drug testing by means of the sweat patch utilized by the United States Department of Probation was a reliable scientific method of testing for the presence of controlled substances.
On June 11, 2001 through June 13, 2001, this court held an evidentiary hearing to examine the sweat patch and its use in the present case. The court heard testimony from defendant, P.O. Walker, Supervising P.O. Keohane, Edward Cone, Ph.D., and Frederick Smith, Ph.D. During the course of the hearing, documents obtained by defendant pursuant to a subpoena duces tecum served on non-party PharmChem Laboratories Inc. ("PharmChem")*fn4 were discussed by the witnesses and admitted into evidence. Initially, PharmChem resisted complying with the subpoena without promises from counsel that all of its responses would be kept strictly confidential. In order to avoid unnecessary delay in preparing for the hearing, counsel agreed to an Order requiring that the dissemination of the documents would be restricted until such time as the court could determine whether or not the documents should remain confidential. At the close of the hearing, defendant requested a determination from the court that none of the subpoenaed documents should be kept confidential. The court will address this issue at the conclusion of its analysis of the violations.
1. Sweat Patch Procedures
During mid-1999, the Probation Office began using the sweat patch, produced by PharmChem, for drug testing purposes. The decision to use the sweat patch was made because of inherent flaws in urinalysis testing. When testing for cocaine, urinalysis is only able to detect cocaine during the 72-hour time period that it will normally remain in an offender's system. Utilizing the sweat patch allows the Probation Office to expand its testing window to beyond the 72 hours that urinalysis offers.
The sweat patch features an absorbent pad sandwiched between the skin and an outer non-occlusive membrane that allows water vapor to pass through. The sweat patch is affixed to an offender's skin using a tamper-evident adhesive backing on the membrane. Once the sweat patch is affixed, the outer layer of the absorbent pad adheres to the skin in an unusual way, forming a bond with the skin so it stays on and will not come off. If the absorbent patch is removed from the skin, it cannot be reattached. After the absorbent pad bonds with the skin, it becomes a collection device. The offender's sweat wets the pad, the water in the sweat eventually evaporates through the non-occlusive membrane, and any drugs remain in the absorbent pad. Once the sweat patch is removed from the offender, it is returned to PharmChem for analysis.
Members of the Probation Office, including P.O. Walker, were taught about the sweat patch and the applicable drug testing procedures by Senior Probation Officer Matthew Brown. The training consisted of watching a video produced by PharmChem and a discussion of ...

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