Proving Prior Felony Convictions Solely Through the Testimony of a Probation Officer

In State v. Hauss, 140 Ariz. 230, 681 P.2d 382 (1984) the state attempted to prove two prior felony convictions solely through the testimony of a probation officer. Id. at 231, 681 P.2d at 383. The court explicitly rejected this method for proving prior convictions, reaffirming that "'the proper procedure to establish the prior conviction is for the state to offer in evidence a certified copy of the conviction rules omitted . . . and establish the defendant as the person to whom the document refers.'" Id., quoting State v. Lee, 114 Ariz. 101, 105, 559 P.2d 657, 661 (1976) (alterations in Hauss). Because the court had not previously required documentary proof, it declined to grant the defendant relief, observing that the felony convictions were sufficiently established by the "highly reliable" testimony of the probation officer. Hauss, 140 Ariz. at 231-32, 681 P.2d at 383-84. The court provided "two very limited exceptions" to the document requirement for proving prior convictions: (1) if the defendant admits the prior conviction while testifying in court, or; (2) the state shows that it was unable to obtain the documentation despite diligent efforts and other evidence is highly reliable. Id.