Friday, December 18, 2009

Noteworthy Impact of Melendez-Diaz

In Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (129 S. Ct. 2527) the Supreme Court found the introduction of state forensic-lab reports is testimonial evidence requiring the appearance at trial of lab technicians.

Here is a list of some subsequent decisions:

Commonwealth v. Sanders (Lawyers Weekly No. 82-271-09)
Defendant was found guilty of drug trafficking. The case has been remanded because the drug test technician was not present for cross-examination.

Commonwealth v. Nixon (Lawyers Weekly No. 82-092-09)
The judge admitted, over a defense objection, a drug certificate and testimony of the police that the substance ‘appeared to be a derivative of cocaine.’ The case has been ordered to a new trial since it was a violation of Melendez-Diaz.

Commonwealth v. Chery, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 909
In a firearm and ammunition possession case, a ballistics certificate was admitted into evidence. This case has also been ordered to a new trial.

Commonwealth v. Connolly, 454 Mass. 808
The defendant appealed a drug trafficking conviction asserting that the search warrant had attached affidavits from informants. Since the informants were not made available for cross-examination the defendant sought to exclude evidence found. The appeal was denied. Probable cause was sufficient for the search and informants had the right to confidentiality.

Commonwealth v. Brown, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 361
In another firearm case, the defendant was found in possession of an unloaded pistol. The prosecution entered a ballistics certificate that stated Brown was in illegal possession of a working firearm. Again this case has been sent to retrial for violation of right to cross-examination granted under Melendez-Diaz.