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Crawford in the Lab — The Next Step: Bullcoming v. New Mexico
By Steven N. Yermish
In a close victory for the defense,1 the Supreme Court held that the introduction of a forensic laboratory report through the in-court testimony of a scientist who did not sign the certification or perform or observe the test reported in the certification violated the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. In Bullcoming v. New Mexico,2 the Court again addressed the reach of Crawford v. Washington3 in the forensic lab context, confirming and broadening, slightly, the reach of its 2009 decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.4 This opinion represents the next incremental step in the application of Crawford to forensic science.
The Bullcoming decision is significant in that it addressed an issue in conflict among jurisdictions — the propriety of surrogate testimony in the forensic lab context. It is also significant, however, for those issues it left open, which were specifically addressed by Justice Sotomayor in a concurring opinion. A strong dissent, authored by Justice Kennedy, was
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