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Typically when a prosecutor intends to present a forensic or toxicology report, they must subpoena the person who actually did the work that produced the report. However, in DUI cases, prosecutors have successfully been allowed to admit the report without the supporting testimony. DUI defense attorneys challenged this approach arguing that admitting the test without the actual testimony of the person who prepared the results violates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights under the Confrontation Clause.
On June 23rd the United States Supreme Court ruled that those accused in all criminal prosecutions have the right to be confronted by adverse witnesses, including lab technicians who analyze blood samples for DUI prosecution. Bullcoming v. New Mexico,131 S.Ct. 587 (2010).
In a 5-4 decision, the Court reversed a ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court that accepted the trial testimony of a different forensic analyst who neither tested the accused’s blood sample or prepared the report of the resulting blood alcohol level. In the opinion of the Court, this procedure denied the accused the opportunity to cross-examine the actual analyst involved in the testing and certification.