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Mass. AG to argue before U.S. Supreme Court

By Nick Rees | Nov 7, 2008


WASHINGTON D.C. (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will argue before the United States Supreme Court Monday in a case over drug analysis certificates and a defendant's right to confront his accuser.

The Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts case questions whether a state laboratory's drug analysis certificates may be used as evidence in a criminal trial without calling the expert who prepared them to testify.

The defendant in the case argues that this is a violation of the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause, which gives an individual the right to confront witnesses against them.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' contention is that the certificates are non-testimonial and not subject to the Confrontation Clause.

It also argues that defendants can review and challenge drug analysis during pretrial procedures and that requiring lab analysts to provide live testimony in every case would cause unwarranted burdens and expenses for the state.

Amicus briefs in support of Massachusetts' contention have been filed by the Federal Government, the National Association of District Attorneys and 36 attorney generals.

Massachusetts' Office of the Attorney General last argued before the Supreme Court in Nov. 2006 in a case involving greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state in April 2007.

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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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