Challenging Evidence of Urinalysis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will hear a case where the evidence provided in the defendants urine is being contested under the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment.

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California Judge Strikes Down Red Light Cameras

A Superior Court judge in California ruled that evidence supplied by red light cameras to issue traffic citations is inadmissible as hearsay under the Constitution. [Read more…]

Mass Legislator Seeks to Close Drug Prosecution Loopholes in Melendez-Diaz

A Massachusetts state legislator has introduced a bill to make it more difficult for accused drug offenders to game the court system as a result of current evidence requirements. [Read more…]

New Court Evidence Ruling Coming Soon

Only a year after the Supreme Court’s controversial Melendez-Diaz decision, court watchers are awaiting possible revisions to that decision. [Read more…]

Mass Court Limits Use Of Melendez-Diaz in OUI Case

The Massachusetts Supreme Court rejected a challenge to blood evidence in an OUI case on grounds of violation of the confrontation clause and the Melendez-Diaz case.

As reported in Mass Lawyer’s Weekly, a blood test taken at a hospital, and submitted as evidence of intoxication in a drunk driving case, could be used without additional expert testimony.

The Melendez-Diaz case changed the rules on scientific evidence as presented in court. Previous to the case, scientific and forensic evidence, such as illegal drug identification reports in drug cases, and some breathalyzer information in DUI cases, could be presented as documentary evidence, and used in court. But after Melendez-Diaz, the court determined that this evidence alone was not sufficient, and that the defense had a right to confront and challenge the evidence. Therefore, an expert witness must be available to defend the documented evidence in court.

The Massachusetts justice determined that since the blood was drawn as part of a medical procedure, and not purely and purposefully as evidence in a criminal case, the rules as established in Melendez-Diaz do not apply.

The Purpose of the Constitution

With respect to Melendez-Diaz decision, we still see far too much griping about some of the inconveniences to prosecutors and to the state. We’ve written about this before, but it can’t be stated enough:

The purpose of the US Constitution is not to make prosecuting criminals convenient and efficient. It is quite the opposite: to preserve and defend the freedoms and liberties of individuals over an intrusive state. [Read more…]

Virginia Crime Labs Fall Behind in Wake of Melendez-Diaz

The Melendez-Diaz decision that 6 months ago changed the rules requiring witness testimony in criminal cases with forensic evidence, has resulted in a backlog in Virgina crime labs. [Read more…]

Supreme Court to Take Another Look At Melendez-Diaz

In an unusual move, the US Supreme Court will hear a case that could alter or overrule the Melendez-Diaz decision, a case from just six months ago. [Read more…]

Detailed Legal Overview of Melendez-Diaz in Boston Bar Journal

This fall’s Boston Bar Journal has an excellent overview of the Melendez-Diaz decision it’s legal origins, and practical implications going forward. The author discusses prior cases such as Crawford v. Washington, and more recent cases (Tabaka v. District of Colombia and Grant v. Commonwealth of Virginia) that expand the scope of the Melendez-Diaz decision.

Also mentioned are practical legislate responses being adopted. Other states such as Massachusetts are looking to adopt the evidence rules of notice and demand that started in Virginia. A notice and demand procedure provides a framework for prosecutors to notify defendants that documentary forensic evidence will be used, and the defense attorneys can formally request the present of a forensic expert witness to review the findings and be challenged in court. This system gives the prosecution time to actually arrange for the witness to appear in court as required.

Overall, a very thorough and recommended read.

Massachusetts Appeals Court Cites Melendez-Diaz in Firearm Possession Case

The Melendez-Diaz decision continues to reverberate in criminal court cases that use documentary evidence without expert testimony. In Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Hollister, the Massachusetts Appeals Court determined that a certified document of ballistic evidence in a gun possession case violated the defendants right to confront his accuser, as outlined in Melendez-Diaz. [Read more…]