State v. Mobley: Green Light to the Use of Substitute Analysts

In previous posts [editor’s note: her prior posts are here and here] I have written about the developing North Carolina law on the use of substitute analysts after Melendez-Diaz. In writing about State v. Locklear and State v. Galindo, both of which rejected substitute analyst testimony, I noted a common feature of those cases that … Read more


Galindo and “Substitute Analysts” After Melendez-Diaz

On October 20, 2009, the North Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Galindo, holding that a Crawford violation occurred when the State’s expert gave an opinion, in a drug trafficking case, as to the weight of the cocaine at issue, based “solely” on a laboratory report by a non-testifying analyst. To put the decision … Read more

Melendez-Diaz “Fix”

Melendez-Diaz v. Massachussetts, as most readers of this blog know, is the United States Supreme Court’s latest pronouncement on the Confrontation Clause. Generally, it holds that forensic laboratory reports — like chemical analyses of drugs, DNA tests, and so on — are “testimonial” for Confrontation Clause purposes. That means a laboratory report generally may not … Read more


State v. Locklear and the Admissibility of Forensic Reports

Last Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Locklear, holding, in part, that a Crawford violation occurred when the trial court admitted opinion testimony regarding a victim’s cause of death and identity. Because the case raises questions about the viability of offering a “substitute analyst” to avoid a Crawford problem, I offer this … Read more


Melendez-Diaz and Limited Privileges

If a 0.15 alcohol concentration is not admitted at trial or sentencing, does it count for limited privilege purposes? I discussed in an earlier post circumstances in which the Confrontation Clause may bar the admission at a sentencing hearing in an impaired driving case of a chemical analysis offered to prove an aggravating factor based … Read more


Retroactivity of Melendez-Diaz (Again)

In my last post on this topic, I addressed the “new rule” prong of Teague retroactivity analysis as it applies to Melendez-Diaz. I ended that post by noting that another aspect of retroactivity analysis that has been raised regarding Melendez-Diaz is whether the Teague test applies in North Carolina motion for appropriate relief proceedings in … Read more


What’s Blakely got to do with it? Sentencing in Impaired Driving Cases after Melendez-Diaz

Jeff Welty blogged here and Jessica Smith published a paper here about the implications of the Supreme Court’s holding in Melendez-Diaz that forensic laboratory reports are testimonial, rendering the affiants witnesses who are subject to the defendant’s right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment. I’ve been pondering the impact of the court’s holding on the … Read more


Retroactivity of Melendez-Diaz

Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 2527 (2009), decided by the United States Supreme Court last month, already has had significant implications for criminal prosecutions in North Carolina. The original wave of questions posed to me about the case pertained to its application in pending prosecutions. I wrote about Melendez-Diaz generally and … Read more

The Impact of Melendez-Diaz on North Carolina

I was on vacation last week, and the buzz around Melendez-Diaz — see this prior post for the basics — was partly drowned out by the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. But only partly, because Melendez-Diaz is a big case, with significant implications for North Carolina, and questions about it were still … Read more

Melendez-Diaz: Crawford Applies to Lab Reports

In yesterday’s frivolous post, I said that legal news was slow. Not anymore! The United States Supreme Court decided Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts yesterday. It’s a big Confrontation Clause case, and I expect that Jessica Smith, the Crawford expert on our faculty, will eventually weigh in with an expert analysis. But since Jessie’s still busy administering … Read more