Friday, April 01, 2011

Considering the value of toxicology reports in random drug tests

Considering the value of toxicology reports in random drug tests
Seeley v New York City, 269 AD2d 205

Are uncertified toxicology reports indicating positive drug test results sufficient to support a decision to terminate an employee? This was the issue presented by Clarice E. Seeley, a New York City police officer, who was terminated after being found guilty of testing positive for cocaine in a random drug test.

Seeley argued that due process required the court to vacate the police commissioner’s decision because it was not supported by substantial evidence. Seeley contended that the commissioner based his ruling on unreliable toxicology reports because they were not certified copies.

The Appellate Division was not impressed by this argument. After commenting that an administrative tribunal is not strictly bound by the rules of evidence, the court pointed out that foundation testimony by the toxicologist who supervised the testing and prepared the final toxicology reports was more than adequate to establish the authenticity and reliability of the copies of the reports entered into evidence.

Also noted was the fact that Seeley’s attorney declined the hearing officer’s invitation to examine the original toxicology reports before copies of them were received in evidence. The Appellate Division then sustained Seeley’s dismissal, commenting that the penalty does not shock our sense of fairness under the circumstances.
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