June 29th, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in the case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts that forensic reports qualify as “testimony”, and therefore that forensic experts must be made available for cross-examination. Melendez-Diaz argued that the expert who wrote the report in his case, identifying a substance found on the defendant as cocaine, should be made available for cross-examination so that testing procedures and the custodial history of the evidence could be presented to the jury. This decision comes just days after the Supreme Court decided Osborne v. Alaska, and the disparate rulings mean that defendants will have more tools to fight charges in court, but no new aid in appealing their convictions.
The New York Times: Justices Rule Lab Analysts Must Testify on Results