News 07.11.11

Supreme Court Ruling Means Lab Tech Should Testify

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution must call the actual lab analyst who performed the testing – or at least an analyst who was present during the testing – in criminal prosecutions.   

Although this is a pretty clear requirement of the Constitution’s confrontation clause, ,  lab officials in New Mexico are worried that they  will have to add up to 20 analysts to manage the work load, reported the Daily Times.

The Supreme Court’s finding stems from a 2005 drunk driving case where the public defender for the defense moved to exclude the testimony of the blood analyst since it wasn’t the analyst who performed the actual test.

The overburdened Scientific Laboratory Division is the only lab in the state and it has to be determined how it will handle the increased demands of analysts.

“The initial response is we are going to need more analysts, but if we don’t have more, then we may be asking the analysts there to work more hours,” said Elizabeth Trickey, general counsel for the state health department.  “The implications could be very broad.”


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