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The Champion

August 2009 , Page 28 

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Melendez-Diaz and the Application of Crawford in the Lab

By Steven N. Yermish

Since its issuance in March 2004, the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Washington1 has generated hundreds of substantive opinions by lower courts addressing several conflicting and highly debated issues, particularly in defining the term “testimonial statement.” The Supreme Court itself has issued opinions construing the application of Crawford in cases involving 911 calls and on-scene police interviews,2 the retroactivity of the decision,3 and the application of the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing.4 

In its 2009 opinion in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts,5 the Court considered whether a certification by a forensic lab analyst as to the nature and weight of a controlled substance was a testimonial statement, and thus its admission in lieu of live testimony by the analyst violated the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. In what was characterized as a straightforward application of Crawford, the Supreme Court held that a forensic lab analyst’s report is a testimonial statem

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