Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scalia Finds an Acorn

In other War on (Certain Classes of People Who Use Certain) Drugs news, the Supreme Court ruled that drug lab analysts must testify in person, and not merely submit signed and notarized documents to the court as evidence. This is one of those cases where Scalia, who takes a rather bright-line view of the Confrontation Clause, ends up on the side of the civil libertarians, while Breyer, who frequently seems to view his job as a Supreme Court Justice to play technocrat-in-chief, joined Kennedy's dissent which points out significant policy impact this decision will have. I haven't really thought too long about the legal or policy merits of forcing analysts to testify yet. Still, if you take the view that the police state has gone too far in enforcing drug laws and that any reduction in police powers or complications in prosecuting drug crimes is a good thing, today was a good day.


Ursula said...

There's a very good argument to be made that a lot of DNA evidence is much, much more suspect than we're led to believe; in that sense, bringing the technician in and properly bringing up lab error is a Very Good Thing. I guess I'm more inclined to argue it as an expert testimony issue than a Confrontation Clause issue, but that's just six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Dan said...

I'm inclined to support anything that undermines "trust us" as part of a person's prosecution.