Confrontation Clause Debacle: Supreme Court Muddies the Water by Ruling that Report on Which Expert Relied Need Not Be Admitted or Subject to Cross-Examination
One of the few bright spots in the Supreme Court's criminal law cases over the past few years has been the resurgence in emphasis on the protections afforded by the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause. However, yesterday in a badly fractured 5-4 decision, the High Court took a step backwards, or maybe even sideways. The case is Williams v. Illinois.
Recall that a couple of years ago the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors cannot use crime lab reports in criminal trials unless the analysts responsible for creating the report came to court and gave live testimony. Last year that rule was reaffirmed and deepened when the Court said the Confrontation Clause was violated if the prosecutor called a colleague or supervisor of the analyst who did the work.