Supreme Court Again Gives Teeth to the Confrontation Clause in Briscoe v. Virginia

The Supreme Court of the United States tells the government that the Confrontation Clause does still exist.  In a one sentence opinion, the Supreme Court said in Briscoe v. Virginia,

We vacate the Judgment of the Supreme Court of Virginia and remand the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. _____.

Previously, I wrote about the Melendez-Diaz opinion.  Essentially, the Court reaffirms that we have a right to confront witnesses and not be tried by affidavit or documents.  Instead, we get to cross-examine the people that make reports, not just live with what the report says.

Some have speculated that the Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to see what Justice Sotomayor's position is on this issue.  Fortunately for the accused, it seems Justice Sotomayor is in agreement with the Melendez-Diaz opinion.

Supreme Court confirms our right to confront witnesses

This week in the Melendez-Diaz decision, the United States Supreme Court confirmed and guaranteed our Sixth Amendment Constitutional right to confront witnesses. 

Melendez-Diaz was charged with possession of a cocaine.  At his trial, the government relied upon a sworn affidavit by a lab analyst to prove what the substance was, the amount of the substance and the quality of the substance.  The lab analyst was not called as a live witness and the affidavit was used to convict the defendant.  The Supreme Court overturned the conviction stating, the Defendant was entitled to "be confronted with" the persons giving this testimony at trial.

This decision could have far reaching implications for DWI defendants in Texas.  More and more often, we are seeing the government force DWI defendants to give blood pursuant to a search warrant.  Also, there are many cases where the government relies upon hospital blood draws as evidence in a Texas DWI case.  In Houston, Texas, the Harris County District Attorney's Office often relies upon the hospital records and a business records affidavit to prove the results of the blood alcohol test

The Melendez-Diaz decision insures, that in these DWI cases where the government is trying to introduce the results of a blood test, that we will have the right to demand the chemist appear in court and justify the results and be subject to cross examination.