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Thursday, April 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

High Court Remands Case on Drug Lab Analysis

(CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered Virginia courts to reconsider the convictions of two men whose lab reports were admitted into evidence without the testimony of the analyst who prepared them.

The justices issued a brief, one-page order remanding the case in light of their June 2009 decision Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, which held that defendants must be given the opportunity to confront lab analysts in court.

The Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause mandates that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to be confronted with the witnesses against him."

At oral argument, Justice Antonin Scalia questioned the reemergence of the issue in the high court.

"Why is this case here except as an opportunity to upset Melendez-Diaz?" he asked.

The high court vacated the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling against cousins Mark Briscoe and Sheldon Cypress, who were convicted of carrying cocaine based on a drug analyst's affidavit.

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