A bond revocation hearing was held on Friday, September 11, 2020 in the case of Brittany Joyce Smith. The Jackson County Circuit Court is currently awaiting Circuit Court Judge Jenifer C. Holt’s ruling on whether or not Smith’s bond may be revoked after her failure to appear twice for substance screening, and the alleged positive tests that resulted from a screening she was present to perform.Smith is currently out on bond, awaiting trial for the shooting death of Joshua Todd Smith in January of 2018. Conditions of her bond stated Smith must participate in the Court Referral – Color Code program and must not test positive for any substances not prescribed to her, including alcohol.
According to Court Referral Officer Brandon Brown, Smith stated a hospitalization kept her from appearing to provide a proper specimen on April 20, 2020 when her color was called, but upon her discharge was not able to provide the necessary proof of the date and times of her admission and discharge. Brown testified Smith provided a medical bracelet and a half-page length printout from the hospital that did not provide the requested information needed to excuse her no-show.
During the time Smith claimed to be hospitalized, the Court Referral – Color Code office states they requested the hospital provide verification Smith was a patient with pertinent dates and information needed to excuse her absence, and that Smith’s mother, Ramona McCalley allegedly stated the hospital would not provide the requested confirmation. While on the stand, McCalley testified the above statement was a falsehood.
When the State was informed, they acted by subpoenaing [via subpoena duces tecum] the routine urine screen that is performed on all patients upon their admittance into Highlands Medical Center. Smith responded by motioning to quash the subpoena.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals stated, “It would not be the State’s burden to prove that B.J.S. [Smith] had not used illegal drugs. Instead – as the State subsequently did – it could move the trial court to revoke B.J.S.’s bail for failure to appear for a drug test when so instructed. At the hearing on that motion, it would be B.J.S.’s burden to explain her failure to appear to the satisfaction of the trial in question and that had she appeared for her drug screening, the screening would have shown an absence of illegal drugs.”
Smith would later miss another color call for a mandatory screening, making that the second violation of her bond.
During routine screenings, a specimen is given with supervision. In front of the donor, the specimen is sealed, labeled and bagged with a Chain of Custody form that is verified and signed by the donor. The bag is then closed with a tamper-resistant seal and placed in a larger bag that will be picked up later by the Family Life Center where the actual testing takes place.
Sheree Logan, Family Life Center Clinical Director testified the specimens are tested individually. One test, in the sealed specimen bag, is placed on a large metal table by itself. It’s then opened and all pertinent information is confirmed and scanned by barcode that will match the barcode on the test tube. The specimen is then placed into the test tube, sealed and placed into the analyzer. Should substances be detected, barring those prescribed, the Color Code office is notified immediately, and the remainder of the original specimen is sent off for a confirmation. Logan stated that should the bag appear to have been tampered with, or if any of the seals are broken, the specimen is discarded, and another must be taken.
Smith’s color was again called on the morning of June 4, but she phoned the Color Code office and told them she was six hours away and could not make it to test in Scottsboro and then make it in time to a medical appointment in Huntsville scheduled at 3 p.m. A recording of the phone call was played in the courtroom.
McCalley testified she was driving Smith back from the beach when the call was made and confessed she had taken herself and her kids to the beach for the weekend and had timed the return trip perfectly to be back in time for the appointment in Huntsville. McCalley also testified that she and Smith watch every morning to see what color will be called, and in the event Smith’s color is called, she drives her to the screenings. McCalley stated she felt the trip to the beach would be okay even though it was six hours away because Smith’s color had not been called on the weekend for about a year. When the State questioned this decision, McCalley admitted there was a chance Smith’s color could have been called despite it being a weekend, and that she and Smith had watched to see if her color was called that weekend.
The Color Code office testified that Smith gave a specimen on June 5, 2020 that allegedly tested positive for four substances: amphetamines, methamphetamines, alcohol and prescribed meds. This meant there must now be enough of the original specimen left to test for those four substances individually. Because there was not enough specimen provided by Smith, a confirmation was not able to be performed.
Judge Holt took the proceedings into advisement and is expected to hand down her ruling in the near future.
Smith is set to go on trial by jury on November 2, 2020.