State v. Pless, ___ N.C. App. ___, 822 S.E.2d 725 (Dec. 18, 2018)

In this drug case, the court held—with one judge concurring in result only—that the trial court did not err by admitting evidence of the identification and weight of the controlled substances from a substitute analyst. Because Erica Lam, the forensic chemist who tested the substances was not available to testify at trial, the State presented Lam’s supervisor, Lori Knops, who independently reviewed Lam’s findings to testify instead. The defendant was convicted and he appealed, asserting a confrontation clause violation. The court found that no such violation occurred because Knops’s opinion resulted from her independent analysis of Lam’s data. As to the identity of the substances at issue, Knops analyzed the data and gave her own independent expert opinion that the substance was heroin and oxycodone. With respect to the weight of the substances, Knops’s opinion was based on her review of Lam’s “weights obtained on that balance tape.” Because weight is machine generated, it is non-testimonial.