Friday, June 24, 2011

Forsensic Lab Report Hearsay Without Testimony of Chemists

Bullcoming v. New Mexico, decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 23, 2011, reaffirmed the right to confront witnesses proffered by prosecution witnesses who testify as to the contents of lab reports in criminal cases.

The narrow question presented to the court was whether the confrontation clause permits the prosecution to admit a forensic laboratory report containing testimonial information from a witness who did not prepare, or sign the certification concerning the lab reports contents?

Again following the Supreme Court Crawford and Melendez-Diaz decisions the court held that such “surrogate testimony” does not meet the constitutional requirements of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and hence, the report is not admissible into evidence without the testimony of the actual chemists who prepared the report.

This decision does not change the well established decisional law in New Jersey which always required the testimony of the forensic chemists who preformed the tests.  In every criminal case it is essential that defense counsel object to any attempt by the prosecution to introduce hearsay evidence through lab reports without the testimony of the forensic chemists.

Law Office Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Elizabeth, New Jersey, Union County
NJ Criminal Attorneys, NJ Criminal Defense Attorneys, NJ Criminal Trial Attorney, Union County Criminal Defense Lawyers, NJ Federal Criminal Trial Attorneys, Criminal Lawyers NJ

Dated: June 24, 2011

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