News 06.24.08

Innocence Network files Supreme Court brief for right to challenge forensic evidence

Arguing that the right of defendants to challenge forensic evidence is critical to prevent wrongful convictions, the Innocence Network filed a brief yesterday in a U.S. Supreme Court case to be heard later this year. In the case, Luis Melendez-Diaz is challenging his 2002 drug-related conviction in Massachusetts, arguing that he was denied the right to cross-examine a state analyst who prepared a report on forensic testing in the case. The Supreme Court has ruled that trial evidence is not admissible unless the defendant can cross-examine the witness. The Massachusetts high court said this doesn’t apply to a forensic expert’s lab report.

In its friend-of-the-court brief, the Innocence Network (an association of nonprofit legal clinics and criminal justice resource centers of which the Innocence Project is a founding member) argues that the Massachusetts Court’s position assumes that lab reports are fact and not subject to interpretation, saying this “rests entirely on a myth of infallibility – a myth that finds no basis in the reality of state forensic practices throughout the country.”

Read today’s

Innocence Project press release

on the case, download the

full Amicus brief

(PDF), or read more about

Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts

on the SCOTUS wiki.

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