The state’s highest court is being asked to decide whether a medical record prepared by a nurse specially trained to treat sexual assault victims should be excluded at trial.

An attorney for Arthur J. Jones, 59, of Augusta — who was convicted by an Augusta jury in November 2017 of unlawful sexual contact — argued Tuesday in Portland that the report should have been kept out of the evidence at trial.

Stephen C. Smith, who also represented Jones at trial, told the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which was sitting as the Law Court, that he did not object to testimony by the nurse who examined an Augusta woman shortly after the Dec. 22, 2016, incident, but he wanted the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner — known as SANE — report excluded.

“The SANE form itself, with all the indicia of evidence and state backing, is the problem,” Smith said.

He described as “a fig leaf” the state’s representation that the report is made for the purposes of medical diagnosis.

“That denies the reality of what the SANE report is,” Smith said. He said the top copy indicates it’s for the medical facility, the second copy for the crime laboratory and the third copy for the Police Department.

Smith noted that the form uses such labels as “victim” and “perpetrator.”

He said the state essentially “deputizes a nurse at the hospital” to conduct the examination and collect evidence.

Christy Stilphen, a student attorney in the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office, who helped write the state’s brief in the appeal, argued to the court that the SANE report was admitted properly at Jones’ trial.

She said that the alternative — having one “invasive” examination for treatment and one for the collection of evidence — would be “asking the patient to step into the stirrups twice.”

Several justices asked whether the victim testified that she had gone to the hospital for medical treatment, and Stilphen said that was implied.

Associate Justice Joseph Jabar noted that a police officer testified to taking the woman to the hospital, and Associate Justice Thomas Humphrey said that the nurse follows a state regulation, rather than a medical directive, in performing the examination.

Stilphen said the nurse’s primary responsibility is to do the medical treatment, and that in this case she administered immunizations and provided preventive treatment.

A Kennebec County jury in November 2017 split its verdict in Jones’ case, clearing him of charges of gross sexual assault and aggravated assault but convicting him of unlawful sexual conduct and assault.

Jones, who had a conviction for rape on June 22, 1992, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, is serving the four-year jail sentence for the unlawful sexual contact charge.

Jones testified at his trial that he and the woman had been boyfriend and girlfriend, and dating for several months. He also said he returned home several times to find her in his apartment.

He is being held at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. Inmates do not attend oral arguments that are being heard this week at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland.

The court rules in writing after considering the oral arguments and the briefs.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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