Thursday, April 19, 2007
Another state decides (at least partially) correctly on lab reports
The Oregon Supreme Court today decided State v. Birchfield (and thanks to Ryan Scott for calling it to my attention even before it was decided!), holding that the trial court violated the accused's right under Article I, sec. 11 of the state Constitution "to meet the witnesses face to face" when it introduced a lab report without presenting the testimony of the criminalist who prepared it or demonstrating his unavailability. The court also holds that a process giving he accused the right to subpoena the witness is no substitute for the constitutional right. The court does not reach contentions under the federal Constitution. Very nice result, crisply reached, immune from federal review, doesn't help set up a conflict for certiorari purposes. My enthusiasm is qualified because the decision leaves open the possibility that the court would say that if the criminalist is available the report can come in even absent an opportunity for confrontation. But clearly that issue is not reached in this decision.