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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Are Crime Reports a form of Testimony?

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Argument Preview: Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts this Monday, November 10th. (Watch the Oyez page for audio)

Stanford prof Jeffrey Fisher is arguing for Melendez-Diaz that state forensic laboratory reports prepared for use in criminal prosecutions are ‘testimonial’ evidence, subject to the demands of the Confrontation Clause set forth in Crawford v. Washington, noting that ‘flawed science contributes to a large proportion of wrongful convictions.’

The states case, argued by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, focuses on the non-testimonial nature of drug analysis certificates “because they merely establish the physical nature of a substance and do not accuse anyone of wrongdoing,” and raises the specter of enormous burdens in countless criminal cases by needlessly requiring live testimony from laboratory technicians if the court adopted Melendez-Diaz’s position.

The court’s decision may well turn on whether or not the Court finds the state of modern forensic science to be as objective as the state says it is or whether, as some have argued, in practice it’s a results oriented, conviction driven body of techniques, not a formal application of the scientific method.

Hearsay explained through Legos

Hysterical. Via AbovetheLaw

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