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Adams v. State (10/2/2015) ap-2478

Adams v. State (10/2/2015) ap-2478

                                                   NOTICE
  

         The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the  

         Pacific Reporter.  Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal  

         errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts:  



                                 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska  99501
  

                                            Fax:  (907) 264-0878
  

                                    E-mail:  corrections @ akcourts.us
  



                IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA  



NATHAN L. ADAMS,  

                                                                  Court of Appeals No. A-11112  

                                   Appellant,                   Trial Court No. 3PA-11-1723 CR  



                          v.  

                                                                             O P I N I O N  

STATE OF ALASKA,  



                                   Appellee.                       No.  2478 - October 2, 2015  



                 Appeal f          

                            rom the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Palmer,  

                 Vanessa H. White, Judge.  



                 Appearances:  John P. Cashion, Cashion Gilmore LLC, under  

                                     

                  contract with the Public Defender Agency, and Quinlan Steiner,  

                 Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.   Kenneth M.  

                                                                                 

                 Rosenstein,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Office  of  Special  

                                                                                       

                 Prosecutions       and    Appeals,     Anchorage,       and    Michael      C.  

                  Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.  



                 Before:  Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Hanley,  

                                                       

                 District Court Judge. *  

                                               



                 Judge ALLARD.  



     *   Sitting  by   assignment  made  pursuant  to  Article  IV,  Section  16  of   the  Alaska  



Constitution and Administrative Rule 24(d).  


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

                         A jury convicted Nathan L. Adams of felony driving under the influence     

of clonazepam, a controlled substance.                                    1  



                                                                                                                                                              

                         Adamsappeals his conviction, arguing that thetrialcourt instructed thejury  



                                                                                                                                                               

in a manner that allowed it to convict him of driving under the influence even if his  



                                                                                                                                                                

impaired  driving  was  due  to  his  physical  exhaustion  rather  than  his  ingestion  of  



                                                                                                                                                              

clonazepam.  We conclude that the court's instructions adequately conveyed to the jury  



                                                                                                                                                               

that it could not convict Adams unless (1) he was impaired to the extent that he could not  



                                                                                                                                                    

operate a motor vehicle with the caution characteristic of a person of ordinary prudence  



                                                                                                                                  

and (2) this impairment was proximately caused by his ingestion of clonazepam.  



                                                                                                                                                       

                         Adams also argues that the superior court erred when it refused to exclude  



                                                                                                                                                          

the testimony of the State's expert witness after the State failed to provide timely notice  



                                                                                                                                                                  

of  the  expert's  testimony.                             Because  Adams  rejected  the  trial  court's  offer  of  a  



                                                                                                                                                

continuance, and because he has not shown that the offered continuance was insufficient  



                                                                                                                                                                

to cure any prejudice caused by the State's late notice of its expert witness, we affirm the  



                                                             

trial court's ruling as within its discretion.  



                                                                                                                                                       

                         Lastly, Adams argues that the State's evidence was insufficient to support  



                                                                                                                    

his conviction for driving under the influence.  Viewing the evidence in the light most  



                                                                                                                                                                  

favorable to the jury's verdict, we conclude that there was legally sufficient evidence to  



                                    

support the jury's verdict.  



                                                                                                                               

                         Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the superior court.  



       1     AS   28.35.030(a)(1),  (n).    Adams  was  also  convicted  of   sixth-degree  misconduct  



involving  a  controlled  substance  under  AS  11.71.060(a)  but  he  does  not  challenge  that  

conviction on appeal.  



                                                                              - 2 -                                                                        2478
  


----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

                         Facts and proceedings                  



                                                  On July 1, 2011, three individuals called 911 to report Adams's erratic and                                                                                                                                                                                       



dangerous driving.                                                      They each reported seeing Adams's car swerving across the road,                                                                                                                                                                       



running multiple people into the ditch, and almost hitting a family van and a truck.                                                                                                                                                                                                      



                                                  Alaska State Trooper Jesse Lopez responded to these reports and observed                                                                                                                                                                     



Adams's car cross the fog line and drift back across the median of the Parks Highway.                                                                                                                                                                                                       



The car then entered a ditch, struck a culvert, entered a second road, and almost hit a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



garbage truck.   



                                                  When   Trooper   Lopez   contacted  the   driver,   Nathan   Adams,   he   was  



 struggling to put the vehicle into park.                                                                                                     Adams displayed other signs of impairment:                                                                                                                              he  



was sluggish, his speech was slurred, and he staggered when he walked.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Adams told   



Lopez that he only had six hours of sleep and that he was tired.                                                                                                                                                       



                                                  Adams performed poorly on field sobriety tests, but when he submitted to                                                                                                                                                                                                



a breath test, the test showed that he had not consumed any alcohol.                                                                                                                                                          

                                                  Adams told thetroopersthathehad adoctor's prescription                                                                                                                                                           for clonazepam,                                            2  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

and the troopers recovered two empty bottles of clonazepam in the center console of his  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

vehicle.   Also located in the console was a  marijuana  pipe and a small amount of  



                                                             

marijuana (5.82 grams).  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                  Approximatelyseven hours afterAdams was arrested,thetroopersobtained  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

a blood sample from him.  The initial test of that blood sample revealed no controlled  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

substances. But a second test shortly before trial revealed .03 milligrams of clonazepam  



per liter of Adams's blood.  At trial, the State's expert testified, without contradiction,  



             2           Clonazepam (brand name Klonopin) is a Schedule IV controlled substance in the   



benzodiazepine family. It typically has a 30- to 40-hour half-life and is commonly prescribed                                                                                                                                                                                                

to treat panic disorders and epileptic conditions.  See U.S. Food and Drug Administration,  

Prescribing Information for Klonopin, available at [http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/  

drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/017533s045,020813s005lbl.pdf] (last visited Sep. 24, 2015).  



                                                                                                                                                        - 3 -                                                                                                                                                 2478
  


----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

that this amount of clonazepamwas sufficient toimpair adriver's balance, cognition, and                                                                                 



reaction time, and that Adams likely had more clonazepam in his system at the time he                                                                                     



was driving.   



                           Because Adams had previous convictions for driving under the influence,                                                         



                                                                                           3  

                                                                                                                                                      

the State charged him with a felony offense.                                                   He was also charged with sixth-degree  

misconduct involving a controlled substance based on the marijuana found in his car.4  



                                                                                                                        

Adams remained incarcerated pending his trial because he was unable to meet his bail  



conditions.  



                                                                                                                                                                           

                           The day before trial, the State gave the defense notice that it intended to  



                                                                                                                                                                         

present the testimony of the expert who had analyzed Adams's blood sample for the  



                                                                                                                                                              

presence of controlled substances. Adams's attorney objected to the testimony, pointing  



                                                                                                                                                                      

out that Alaska Rule 16 required the State to provide notice of expert testimony at least  



                                                       5  

                                                                                                                                                                         

forty-five days before trial.                             The defense attorney asked the court to either exclude the  



                                                                                                                                                                     

testimony or grant a forty-five-day continuance with the time counted against the State  



                                                                                                                                                                        

for  purposes of Criminal Rule 45,  which  would result in  dismissal  of the case for  



                                                                               

violation of Adams's right to a speedy trial.  



                                                                                                                                                                 

                           Superior  Court  Judge  Vanessa  White  refused  to  exclude  the  expert  



                                                                                                                                                                

testimony or dismiss Adams's case, rulingthat acontinuancewas theappropriateremedy  



                                                                                                                                                                       

for the State's late notice.  The judge gave Adams two options:  a continuance of a few  



                                                                                                                                                                        

weeks to allow him to prepare his defense to the State's late-noticed expert, or the full  



                                                                                                                                                                   

forty-five-day continuance he requested provided that hewaived his right to a trial within  



                                                                                               

the 120-day period required by Criminal Rule 45.  



       3     AS 28.35.030(a)(1), (n).  



       4     AS 11.71.060(a).  



       5     See Alaska R. Crim. P. 16(b)(1)(B).  



                                                                                   - 4 -                                                                            2478
  


----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

                                                 Adams's attorney rejected both of these options as inadequate.                                                                                                                                                                             Because  



Adams refused any continuance that would not result in dismissal of his case under Rule                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



45, his trial began that day.                                                       



                                                 At trial, Adams argued that the jury should acquit him because his erratic                                                                                                                                                                           



driving was caused by his exhaustion, not by his ingestion of clonazepam.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The jury   



ultimately   rejected   that   defense   and   convicted   Adams   of   felony   driving   under   the  



influence and sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance.                                                                                                                                                             



                                                 This appeal followed.                        



                          Why we conclude that the trial court's instructions to the jury regarding                                                                                                                                                          

                         the cause of Adams's impairment were legally adequate in this case                                                                                                                                                                       



                                                 Adams's jury was instructed that to convict Adams of driving under the                                                                                                                                                                                           



influence, the State had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Adams drove while                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



"under the influence of [an] alcoholic beverage, intoxicating liquor, inhalant, or any                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

controlled substance, singly or in combination."                                                                                                                                 6  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                 The jury was also given the following instruction, defining "under the  



influence":  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                 A person is under the influence when as a result of the use  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                 thereof, his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired so  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                 that he or she no longer has the ability to operate or drive a  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                 motor vehicle with the caution characteristic of a person of  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                 ordinary prudence who is not under the influence of such a  

                                                 substance.[7]  



            6            AS 28.35.030(a)(1).  



            7            See Molina v. State                                                 , 186 P.3d 28, 29 (Alaska App. 2008); Gunderson v. Anchorage,  



762 P.2d 104, 114 n.7 (Alaska App. 1988).  



                                                                                                                                                       - 5 -                                                                                                                                               2478
  


----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

(Although no one noticed the omission in this instruction when it was first submitted to                                                                                 



the jury, on appeal the parties agree that the instruction should have read:                                                                       "A person is           



under   the influence                     of an        alcoholic beverage, intoxicating                                    liquor,   inhalant,   or any   



controlled substance, singly or in combination,                                               when as a result of the use thereof ..." or                                



alternatively, "[a] person is under the influence                                              of clonazepam, a controlled substance                                       ,  

when as a result of the use thereof ..."                                   8)  



                                                                                                                                                                  

                           During deliberations the jury asked the court for clarification of these  



                                                                                                                                                                         

instructions.  First, the jury asked the court to explain whether the phrase "singly or in  



                                                                                                                                                                      

combination" meant "in combination [with] anything (exhaustion), or just those on this  



                                                                                                                                                                       

list?"   The parties agree that the court responded appropriately to this question by  



                                                                                                                                                          

instructing  the  jury  that  "singly  or  in  combination"  referred  only  to  an  alcoholic  



                                                                                                                                                            

beverage, intoxicating liquor, inhalant or controlled substance, not "to other possible  



                                                                   

conditions, such as sleepiness or exhaustion."  



                                                                                                                                                               

                           Second, the jury asked for clarification of the instruction defining "under  



                                                                                                                                                               

the influence" (Instruction No. 15).  The court's response to that question is the subject  



               

of this appeal.  



                                                                                                                                                        

                           Specifically, the jury sought clarification on what it meant for a driver to  



                                                                                                                   

be impaired "as a result of" his or her use of a controlled substance:  



                                                                                                                              

                           In instruction 15, does "as a result of" mean the controlled  

                           substance  must  be  the  sole  cause?                                       Or  are  other  factors  

                                                                                                                                    

                           (exhaustion) allowed?   In short: can we convict based on  

                                                                                                                                             

                           shared cause of guilt?  

                                                           



After consulting with the parties, the court provided the following response to the jury's  

                                                                                                                                                                  



question:  



                           In Instruction #15, the phrase "as a result of" means as a  

                                                                                                                                                

                           direct result of the use of an alcoholic beverage, intoxicating  

                                                                                                                           



       8      Cf. Alaska Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction 28.35.030(a) #4 (2011).  



                                                                                  - 6 -                                                                            2478
  


----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

                                                liquor, inhalant or any controlled substance.                                                                                                                  The controlled   

                                                substance need not be the only cause of the driver's impaired                                                                                                                         

                                                performance,   but,   for   purposes   of   evaluating   whether   the  

                                                defendant was driving under the influence, the use of the                                                                                                                                                

                                                substance must be one direct cause of the driver's inability                                                                                                                           

                                                "to   operate   or   drive   a   motor   vehicle   with  the   caution  

                                                characteristic of a person of ordinary prudence."                                                                                     



Adams agreed with the first part of the court's instruction - that "as a result of" meant                                                                                                                                                                                                      



"as a direct result of." But he objected to the rest of the instruction. The court overruled                                                                                                                                                                                       



his objection.   



                                                On appeal, Adams argues that the court's clarifying instruction was error.                                                                                                                                                                       



He asserts that the court should have specifically instructed the jury that it "could not                                                                                                                                                                                                                



incorporate Adams's exhaustion into the equation" in deciding whether to convict him                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



of driving under the influence.                                           



                                                The   parties   agree   that,   under   Alaska   law,   a   person's   conduct   is   the  



proximate cause of a result only if (1) the result would not have occurred "but for" the                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



conduct   and   (2)   the   conduct   was   "so   important"   in   bringing   about   the   result   "that  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9  

reasonable individuals would regard it as a cause and attach responsibility to it."                                                                                                                                                                                                                This  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                    10  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

test is sometimes referred to as the "substantial factor test." 



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                Thus, the State bore the burden of proving, inter alia, that but for Adams's  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

ingestion  of  clonazepam,  he  would  have  been  able  to  drive  "with  the  caution  



            9            Winschel  v.  Brown,  171  P.3d  142,  148  (Alaska  2007);  see   generally  Wayne  R.  



LaFave,   Substantive Criminal Law                                                                                           6.4(a), at 466 (2d ed. 2003) (discussing proximate   

causation in criminal cases).  



             10          Winschel, 171 P.3d at 148; see also Wayne R. LaFave, Substantive Criminal Law   



6.4(b) at 468-69 (noting that courts will use the term "substantial factor" rather than "but for"  

                                                                                                                                                                               

when there are multiple forces operating to cause the harmful result, and each force by itself  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

is sufficient to cause the result).  



                                                                                                                                                   - 7 -                                                                                                                                          2478
  


----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        11  

 characteristic of a person of ordinary prudence who is not under the influence";                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                but the   



 State was                                            not  required to prove that Adams's alleged lack of sleep played no role in his                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



impairment.     Similarly,   the   jury   could   properly   convict   Adams   of   being   under   the  



influence of clonazepam even if it found that his lack of sleep contributed in some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



manner to his impairment.                                                      



                                                                           We think that, taken as a whole, the trial court's instructions adequately                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



 conveyed this law to the jury.                                                                                                                                         The jury was told that it could not convict Adams unless                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Adams drove while                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     "under the influence                                          



 of alcoholic beverage, intoxicating liquor, inhalant, or any controlled substance, singly                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



 or  in  combination"   and   that   "singly   or   in   combination"   did   not   encompass   "other  



possible conditions, such as sleepiness or exhaustion." The jury was also instructed that                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



Adams's ingestion of clonazepam had to be a "direct cause" of his legal impairment -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



though it did not have to be the sole cause of his impaired performance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



                                                                            On appeal, Adams contends that the instruction was not as clear as it could                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



have been and that it may have led the jury to erroneously convict him of being "under                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



the influence" of exhaustion, rather than "under the influence" of a controlled substance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



But, in the proceedings below, Adams's attorney failed to offer the trial judge any                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



 alternative language that might have better clarified the legal standard.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Instead, the   



 defense attorney insisted that the clonazepam had to be the sole cause of Adams's                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



impairment and the trial court had to remove any and all language from the instruction                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



 suggesting otherwise.                                                                                                       But, as we just explained, that is not the law.                                                                                                                                                                                         



                                                                            Moreover, if we adopted Adams's contention - that AS 28.35.030(a)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



requires the State to prove that a defendant's impairment is attributable                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     solely  to the   



ingestion of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances - this would create a defense                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



inconsistent with the underlying purpose of the statute.  Under Adams's interpretation  



                    11               Molina , 186 P.3d at 29.  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - 8 -                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2478
  


----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

of the law, defendants who consumed alcoholic beverages and/or controlled substances                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



to the point where they were impaired would nevertheless be entitled to an acquittal on                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



the DUI charge if they could convince the jury of a reasonable possibility that their                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



impairment was augmented by fatigue or some other extraneous cause.                                                                                                                                                                                                         



                                                       For these reasons, we conclude that the court's instruction was not error.                                                                                                                                                                                                            



                             Why   we   conclude   that   the   trial   court   did   not   abuse   its   discretion   by  

                            allowing the State's expert witness to testify despite the State's late notice                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                            of the expert            



                                                       Adams next argues that the superior court erred by allowing the State's                                                                                                                                                                                                           



expert   to   testify   as   an   expert   witness   without   timely  notice   under   Criminal   Rule  



 16(b)(1)(B).    He contends that, as an incarcerated, pretrial defendant, he was unfairly                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



forced to choose between foregoing his right to a speedy trial and having adequate,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



timely notice of the expert witness.                                                                           



                                                       Criminal Rule 16(b)(1)(B) provides that "[u]nless a different date is set by                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



the court, as soon as known and no later than 45 days prior to trial, the prosecutor shall                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



inform the defendant of the ... expert witnesses ... the prosecutor is likely to call at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                        12  

trial."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                  The rule also describes the remedy for violations of the disclosure requirements:  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                       Failure  to  provide  timely  disclosure  under  this  rule  shall  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                       entitle the defendant to a continuance.  If the court finds that  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                       a   continuance   is   not   an   adequate   remedy   under   the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                       circumstances  of  the  case,  the  court  may  impose  other  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                        sanctions, including prohibiting the prosecutor from calling  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                               13  

                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                       the expert at trial or declaring a mistrial. 



              12            Alaska R. Crim. P. 16(b)(1)(B).  



              13           Id.  



                                                                                                                                                                          - 9 -                                                                                                                                                                  2478
  


----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

                       Thus, in the absence of bad faith, a continuance is normally the appropriate                             

remedy for a discovery violation.                        14                                                                      

                                                             But if a continuance is shown to be an inadequate  



                                                                                                                                                

remedy, the trial court may consider other remedies, including exclusion of evidence or  



                 15  

    

a mistrial. 



                                                                                                                           

                       Here, when the State notified Adams of its expert witness, approximately  



                                                                                                                                                

thirty-three days of speedy trial time remained.  The court offered to continue trial to  



                                                                                                                             

allow Adams the opportunity to prepare for the testimony of the State's expert and to  



                                                                                                                                            

give him a date-certain trial within his current Rule 45 calculation.   The court also  



                                                                                                                                            

offered to continue the case for the full forty-five days provided for under Criminal Rule  



                                                                                                        

 16, if Adams consented to a trial outside the current Rule 45 calculation.  



                                                                                                                                    

                       Adams rejected  both of these options, insisting that the only adequate  



                                                                                                                                               

remedy was to either exclude the expert testimony or dismiss his case for violation of his  



                                                                  

speedy trial rights under Rule 45.  On appeal, Adams abandons his claim that the case  



                                                                                                                               

should have been dismissed under Rule 45 and argues only that the offered continuance  



                                                                                                                                       

within the current Rule 45 calculation was inadequate and that the appropriate remedy  



                                                     

was exclusion of the expert at trial.  



                                                                                                                             

                       ButAdamsdoesnotexplainwhytheoffered continuancewas"inadequate."  



                                                                                                                                      

And his refusal to take any additional time to prepare for the State's expert directly  



                                                                                              

undermines his claim that the offered continuance was inadequate.  



                                                                                                                                                

                       Adams contends that "the degree to which the prosecution disregarded its  



                                                                                                                                             

obligation to engage in timely discovery and submit timely filings is staggering" and that  



                                                                                                                                          

exclusion was therefore the appropriate remedy in this circumstance, particularly given  



                                      

his continued pretrial incarceration.  



      14   Bostic v. State, 805 P.2d 344, 348 (Alaska 1991);                              Johnson v. State , 577 P.2d 230, 233  



(Alaska 1978).  



      15   Bostic, 805 P.2d at 348.  



                                                                     - 10 -                                                               2478
  


----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

                                                        But   the   record   shows   that   the   trial   judge   was   concerned   about   the  



prosecutor's actions and their effect on an incarcerated pretrial defendant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The judge   



held an inquiry into why expert notice was so late and found that it was based on                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



inadvertence, not bad faith.                                                                                              She also found that, contrary to the defense attorney's                                                                                                                                              



claims, the proposed expert testimony should not have come as a surprise to the defense                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



because the prosecutor had sent the results of the second blood test to the defense a week                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



earlier.   Lastly, the court found that the prosecutor had acted diligently in sending the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



defense the results of the second blood test as soon as he received them.                                                                                                                                                                                                             



                                                        Given this record,                                                         weconcludethat the trial court acted within its discretion                                                                                                                                     



when it denied Adams's request for exclusion of the State's expert testimony.                                                                                                                                                                                                             



                             The State presented sufficient evidence that Adams was under the influence                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                            of clonazepam   



                                                        Lastly, Adams argues that the State presented insufficient evidence that his                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



impairment was directly caused by his ingestion of clonazepam.                                                                                                                                                          



                                                        In reviewing a motion for a judgment of acquittal, we view the evidence in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

the light most favorable to upholding the verdict.                                                                                                                                                              16                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Evidence is sufficient to support a  



conviction if a "fair-minded juror exercising reasonable judgment could conclude that  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

the State had met its burden of proving [the defendant's] guilt beyond a reasonable  

doubt."17  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                        Here, the evidence at trial established that Adams's driving was extremely  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

erratic and dangerous.   The trooper who contacted Adams observed many signs of  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

impairment: he was sluggish, his speech was slurred, he staggered when he walked, and  



               16           Moore v. State , 262 P.3d 217, 220 (Alaska App. 2011).  



               17           Hinson v. State, 199 P.3d 1166, 1170 (Alaska App. 2008) (quoting Dailey v. State, 65  



P.3d 891, 898 (Alaska App. 2003)) (alteration in Hinson).  



                                                                                                                                                                          - 11 -                                                                                                                                                                      2478
  


----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

he performed poorly on field sobriety tests.  The evidence also established that Adams  

                                                                                                                         



had been consuming 2 milligrams of clonazepam twice a day, and that he had .03  

                                                                                                                              



milligrams of clonazepam per liter in his blood seven hours after he was arrested.  The  

                                                                                                                              



State's expert testified that clonazepam is a central nervous system depressant that, like  

                                                                                                                              



alcohol, can impede a person's balance, coordination, thought process, reaction times,  

                                



and vision.  When asked if .03 milligrams of clonazepam per liter in a person's blood  

                                                                                                                           



was enough to cause these impairments, the expert testified that it was.  

                                                                                                     



                    Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable to upholding the verdict,  

                                                                                                                         



we conclude that fair-minded jurors could reasonably find that Adams was driving while  

                                                                                                                            



under  the  influence  of  clonazepam.                     We  therefore  conclude  that  the evidence  was  

                                                                                                                             



sufficient to support Adam's DUI conviction.  

                                                     



          Conclusion  



                    We AFFIRM the judgment of the superior court.  

                                                                                      



                                                             - 12 -                                                        2478
  

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