News 06.24.11

Supreme Court Upholds Right to Cross Examine Lab Technicians

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of criminal defendants to cross examine forensic analyst who provide scientific evidence in criminal trials. The case, Bullcoming v. New Mexico, involved a New Mexico man who was prosecuted for driving while intoxicated. At trial, the prosecution introduced the results of the toxicology report showing that his blood-alcohol levels were elevated through a forensic analyst who didn’t actually perform the test. The analyst who performed the test was on unpaid leave for unspecified reasons.  

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, wrote the majority decision, which reaffirmed the Court 2009 decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts and held that it was a violation of the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause to deny the defendant the right to cross examine the forensic analyst who performed the testing. 

Adam Liptak of the New York Times

has a good summary of the opinion here

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Download the Supreme Court’s decision

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The Innocence Network submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

Download it here

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