SCOTUScast 1-23-09 featuring John Douglass
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts
January 23, 2009John Douglass
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SCOTUScast 1-23-09 featuring John Douglass - MP3
Running Time: 00:19:36
On Monday, November 10, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. The Supreme Court here considers the limits of the Confrontation Clause in the wake of its decision in Crawford v. Washington. The case arises from the conviction of Luis Melendez-Diaz on charges of distributing and trafficking crack cocaine. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts submitted as evidence at trial lab reports that showed substances seized at the time of Melendez-Diaz's arrest to be cocaine. Under Massachusetts precedent, such reports were considered a record of primary fact, and in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2004 decision in Crawford, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts had held in Commonwealth v. Verde that a crime lab report was analogous to a business record and thus would not implicate the Confrontation Clause. In this case, the intermediate appellate court in Massachusetts applied this logic to reject Melendez-Diaz's challenge, and the Supreme Judicial Court denied review. The Supreme Court now considers whether crime lab reports constitute the kind of testimonial evidence which implicates the Sixth Amendment's protection of the accused's right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him." University of Richmond School of Law Dean John Douglass discusses the case.
Oral Argument - November 10, 2008: