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Supreme Court adds Confrontation Clause case to 2009 term

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] issued a second set of orders Monday, granting certiorari [order list, PDF] in one additional case. On its final day of the term, the Court agreed to hear Briscoe v. Virginia [docket; cert. petition, PDF], in which it will consider whether, if a state allows a prosecutor to introduce a certificate of a forensic laboratory analysis, without presenting the testimony of the analyst who prepared the certificate, the state avoids violating the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] by providing that the accused has a right to call the analyst as his own witness. The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that there was no Confrontation Clause violation.

Last week, the Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] 5-4 in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that a forensic analyst's laboratory report is testimonial evidence under the Confrontation Clause, giving criminal defendants a right to cross-examine the analysts. The Massachusetts Appeals Court held [opinion, PDF] that the report was not testimonial in nature and could therefore be admitted without the analysts testifying in person. Writing for the Court, Justice Antonin Scalia reversed that decision. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito.

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