Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Supreme Court Dumps Confrontation Clause Case Without Fanfare

On Monday, the Supreme Court sent the case of Briscoe v. Virginia back to Virginia without comment.  This is an interesting development because they agreed to hear this case so soon after issuing a decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.  On June 29, 2009 we published a blog discussing this interesting development.  In Briscoe the Court ruled that defendants have a constitutional right to cross examine lab technicians who prepare lab reports in drug cases.  The ruling was based on the Sixth Amendment right to confront your accusers.  About a week later, the Supreme Court decided to accept the appeal in Briscoe which essentially dealt with the same issue as in Melendez-Diaz.  The question in Briscoe was whether the state could produce a certificate of a lab technician instead of being required to call him to testify in court.  Court watchers were left scratching their heads when the court agreed to hear Briscoe.  The Supreme Court actually heard oral arguments on Briscoe on January 11, but on Monday, the sent the case back to Virginia.  This decision leaves the precedent in Melendez-Diaz intact and leaves the issue settled.

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