Court: Defendants Can Question Crime Lab
Scientists must be brought to court
Posted Jun 26, 2009 9:08 AM CDT
Members of the U.S. Supreme Court sit for a group portrait at the Supreme Court in Washington in this March 3, 2006 file photo.    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – A 5-4 Supreme Court ruling yesterday gives defendants the chance to face authors of crime lab reports in their cases. Prosecutors who want to use lab testing undertaken for a given case will be required to bring its authors to court, where the defense can confront them. The ruling shows “a heavy dose of skepticism that crime lab reports are so reliable as to be beyond question,” writes Lyle Deniston in SCOTUSblog.

Labs aren’t always as “neutral or as reliable” as they’re said to be, wrote Antonin Scalia in the majority opinion; more important, the defendant has a right of confrontation. The court was divided on unusual lines, with three liberal justices and one conservative backing Scalia, and two conservatives and a liberal backing Anthony Kennedy’s dissent.

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Showing 3 of 3 comments
RobN
Jun 26, 2009 3:04 AM CDT
It was a light-hearted dig at the posters here who consider Scalia to be the devil incarnate who has no thought for individual liberties. Not "targeting" anyone, but anybody who's been around Newser for any length of time knows in what regard Scalia is held by our more liberal posters. It seems like a good ruling to me although if the techs who do the actual work have to spend half their time in court testifying about their methodology, it's going to slow labs down to a crawl.
godawgs
Jun 26, 2009 2:24 AM CDT
This is good, why wouldn't you be able to confront someone in a trail.
RobN
Jun 26, 2009 2:10 AM CDT
Alright Libs, admit it, you didn't see this one coming.