Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on Melendez Diaz

Recently I wrote about how the Supreme Court decisions in Melendez-Diaz(129 S.Ct. 2527 [June 25, 2009]) and Briscoe v Virginia (559 US ___ [1/25/10]) appeared to undermine and contracidt hte holdings of the New York Court of Appeals in People v Rawlins and People v Meekins (10 N.Y.3d 136 [2/19/2008]). Donald Rehkopf, Esq (of the Firm of Brenna, Brenna, and Boyce) provides some useful information for those seeking to challenge those holdings:

Just read your post from late January, RE: Melendez-Diaz, etc., on the NYCD blog - there's another reason to attack Meekins [and now Brown]. The CoA in Rawlins / Meekins relied upon 3 opinions from other states:

1) State v. Crager, [Ohio];
2) Commonwealth v. Verde; [Mass.]; and
3) People v. Geier, [Calif].

Funny things happen, and Brown never addressed them.

1) Crager was pending cert. at SCOTUS when Melendez-Diaz was decided, SCOTUS GVR'd it back to the Ohio Supreme Court, who then, in light of M-D, reversed its original decision in Crager, and ordered a new trial;

2) Melendez-Diaz was affirmed in the State Court's based upon Commonwealth v. Verde, which held that drug analysis reports were "non-testimonial." By reversing M-D, SCOTUS impliedly overruled Verde; and

3) Subsequent to M-D, California Courts have held that Geier is no longer "good law." See, e.g., People v. Dungo, 98 Cal.Rptr.3d 702, 711 n. 11 (Cal.App. 2009), concluding that Melendez-Diaz, abrogated Geier.

So, the legal "foundation" in Meekins [and now, Brown], simply no longer exists.

Finally, if there was any question that the CoA's jurisprudence is wrong, it seems that the Court [and no doubt counsel] overlooked the seminal NY case, which Justice Scalia cited in M-D, People v. Bromwich, 200 NY 386, 93 N.E. 933 (1911) [rejecting “certificates” in lieu of live witnesses for confrontation], cited at 129 S.Ct. at 2539.

Don will be speaking on these constitutional confrontation clause issues at NYSACDL's April CLE in Syracuse.

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