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Briscoe v. Virginia, USSC No. 07-11191, 1/25/10

Confrontation – Lab Report
USSC decision. An order, really, not an opinion, tantamount to a “GVR” (Grant, Vacate, Remand):

PER CURIAM. We vacate the judgment of the Supreme Court of Virginia and remand the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U. S. ___ (2009).

Significance, as explained by Briscoe’s attorney and leading Confrontation Clause expert Richard Friedman: “the critical point confirmed by Melendez-Diaz remains the law: A prosecution witness must testify live, face to face with the accused, and not in writing.” It nonetheless remains the case that, as Friedman further notes,

Sooner or later, the Supreme Court will have to resolve the question of who must testify to the substance of a lab test. Indeed, withBriscoe now safely off the Supreme Court’s docket, this would be a logical next issue for the Court to tackle; the justices were interested in it both in Melendez-Diazand in Briscoe. Jeff Fisher has just filed a cert petition raising this issue in Pendergrass v. Indiana, seeking review of Pendergrass v. State913 N.E.2d 703 (Ind. 2009). You can read it by clicking here.

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