SCOTUS hears testimonial case

November 10, 2008
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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today involving an issue that is currently before our state’s high court: whether lab reports are considered testimonial evidence.

SCOTUS heard arguments in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, about whether a state forensic analyst’s laboratory’s report prepared for use in a criminal prosecution is testimonial evidence. If it is, then the reports would be subject to the Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment as determined in Crawford v. Washington in 2004.

Here in Indiana, our Court of Appeals saw two cases dealing with this same issue and the two panels produced different rulings on the subject of lab reports – one ruled they are testimonial, and one ruled they are business records.

The COA panel in Jackson v. State reversed Ricky Jackson’s drug conviction, finding he had the right to confront the lab technician who conducted the drug testing. The technician was unable to appear in court because she was on maternity leave. In Pendergrass v. State, that panel affirmed Pendergrass’ conviction of child molesting, find the DNA report to be a business record. Our Supreme Court granted transfer to Pendergrass in August.

With this issue pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, I’d be surprised if our state’s high court didn’t wait until SCOTUS made its decision to issue a ruling here. Any thoughts on whether lab reports are testimonial records? Should the lab technicians conducting the testing or writing the report have to testify in court?
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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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