This is interesting:
Crime laboratory reports may not be used against criminal defendants at trial unless the analysts responsible for creating them give testimony and subject themselves to cross-examination, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a 5-to-4 decision.
The ruling was an extension of a 2004 decision that breathed new life into the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause, which gives a criminal defendant the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”
Four dissenting justices said that scientific evidence should be treated differently than, say, statements from witnesses to a crime. They warned that the decision would subject the nation’s criminal justice system to “a crushing burden” and that it means “guilty defendants will go free, on the most technical grounds.”***
Noting that 500 employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Quantico, Va., conduct more than a million scientific tests each year, Justice Kennedy wrote, “The court’s decision means that before any of those million tests reaches a jury, at least one of the laboratory’s analysts must board a plane, find his or her way to an unfamiliar courthouse and sit there waiting to read aloud notes made months ago.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, scoffed at those “back-of-the-envelope calculations.”
In any event, he added, the court is not entitled to ignore even an unwise constitutional command for reasons of convenience.
“The confrontation clause may make the prosecution of criminals more burdensome, but that is equally true of the right to trial by jury and the privilege against self-incrimination,” Justice Scalia wrote.
“The sky will not fall after today’s decision,” he added.
But that is not how prosecutors saw it. “It’s a train wreck,” Scott Burns, the executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, said of the decision.
“To now require that criminalists in offices and labs that are already burdened and in states where budgets are already being cut back,” Mr. Burns said, “to travel to courtrooms and wait to say that cocaine is cocaine — we’re still kind of reeling from this decision.”
DA’s will just have to prioritize. Also, dissenting were Roberts and Alito. It will be interesting to see how many years it takes before Roberts fails to side with the government. A thoroughly modern Bush-era “conservative,” with total deference to the government in almost every regard. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he has a tattoo that says “If you haven’t done anything wrong…”