DNA exonerations and other cases have questioned the reliability of evidence from crime labs across the country in recent years, and now a case regarding lab evidence has reached the nation’s highest court. The U.S. Supreme Court said yesterday it would hear a case this fall regarding whether a crime lab report can be entered as trial evidence without the testimony of a lab expert.
State and federal courts have come to different conclusions about whether recent Supreme Court decisions affirming the constitutional right of a defendant to confront his accusers extend to lab reports that are used in many drug and other cases.
The case the justices accepted, and will consider in the fall, comes from Massachusetts. Luis Melendez-Diaz was convicted of trafficking in cocaine partly on the basis of a crime lab analysis that confirmed that cocaine was in plastic bags found in the car in which Melendez-Diaz was riding.
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. (Associated Press, 03/18/08)
The Innocence Project has long advocated for improved reliability from state crime labs.
Learn about Innocence Project proposals for reforms to ensure proper crime lab oversight here