U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Chemical Test Result In DUI Case Is Inadmissible At Trial Unless Lab Technician Who Performed Analysis Is Subject To Cross-Examination By Defense In Court
Decision Trumps Prior California Decisions
Declaring that “[t]he Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause confers upon the accused ‘[i]n all criminal prosecutions, . . . the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him,’” the United States Supreme Court reversed a drunk driving conviction where the accused was denied the opportunity to cross-examine the actual lab analyst who completed, signed and certified a forensic laboratory report concerning his purported blood-alcohol level. Bullcoming v. New Mexico - Case No. 09-10876.
The National College for DUI Defense (www.ncdd.com) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
Like several California appellate courts, the New Mexico Supreme Court had erroneously found it constitutional for the prosecution to produce at trial a different forensic analyst familiar with lab procedures but who had no involvement with the analysis or reporting of defendant’s blood sample.
The Bullcoming Court held that the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause “does not tolerate dispensing with confrontation simply because a court believes that questioning one witness about another's testimonial statements provides a fair enough opportunity for cross-examination.”
In an era that has seen constitutional rights eviscerated by our Courts when it comes to drunk driving investigations and prosecutions, this decision is a refreshing turn of events and should help protect a core constitutional right of the accused to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him (or her).
Supreme Court decision: www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-10876.pdf
Have you been charged with a DUI San Francisco, DUI Marin, DUI Sonoma or DUI Napa? My name is Paul Burglin and I am a San Francisco Bay area drunk driving attorney who for over 25 years has specialized in drunk driving defense in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa and surrounding communities. I am also the co-author of "California Drunk Driving Law"