1. A properly drawn notice-and-demand statute is constitutional. Petitioner has acknowledged that a "bland" notice-and-demand statute is constitutional. That is, so long as all the defendant has to do to get confrontation is make a timely demand, there should be no problem. Of course, a statute could make an unreasonable demand on the defendant, and that could create a problem. And I think some leeway ought to be allowed if some reason arises belatedly giving the defendant reason to demand confrontation. But in general, a well-drafted notice-and-demand statute is constitutional, and that relieves much of the problem; most defendants have no desire to have the technician tesify live.
a. The person or bsubstance tested was the one material to the case.
b. The test was performed as described by the witness.
c. (1) The results of the test were as testified by the witness, or (2) A
given tangible item is the product of the test.
d. The proper interpretation of the test results is as testified by theBut even assuming that interpretive evidence is necessary, there is no requirement that the witness providing the interpretation be the one who testifies as to the three factual predicates identified above; as long as a witness with first-hand knowledge is able to testify to those predicates, then any witness with sufficient expertise to interpret the test results may do so.
3. The state may provide a pre-trial opportunity for confrontation, and if it does the courts should be generous in holding that the witness is unavailable at the time of trial. Much of the inefficiency that Massachusetts and its supporting amici complain about would be avoided if the state provides a full pre-trial opportunity for confrontation. The deposition can be scheduled ahead of time, and does not have to depend on what happens at trial. A witness coming from a distant city could schedule several depositions on one trip. In most cases involving lab reports, there is no mystery early on what the lab report would be used to prove and what the defendant would like to achieve on cross. Early cross-examination offers the possibility that the witness will have a clearer memory of the test than at trial. And the deposition can be videotaped.
The sticking point is that under Crawford a pre-trial opportunity for cross suffices only if the witness is unavailable to testify at trial. I think it would be wise to be rather generous in deeming a witness who has been subjected to cross-examination to be unavailable at the time of trial. Unavailability is often a matter of degree, and given the prior cross and the rather small probability that a second cross would add much, I think the trial court should be allowed to characterize as unavailable a lab technician who would have to travel a great distance. Also, if at the time of trial the witness has virtually no memory of the particular incident -- and that should be subject to demonstration without live testimony from the witness -- then that is a basis for holding her unavailable.
Pretrial testimony is a second-best solution. But in this context, I think it should be constitutionally acceptable.
4. A surrogate should not be allowed to testify to the factual predicates necessary for proving the test results. I stated above the three predicates necessary to admit lab results. Notwithstanding the position taken by several other law professors in an amicus brief, I think it is plainly inadequate for a witness who did not observe the conduct of the test or the handling of the substance tested to report someone else's assertions as to the chain of custody of the substance, the test performed on it, and the results of that test. ("I didn't see the stuff being handled, I didn't see the test being performed, and I didn't see the results of the test. But I'll tell you what my colleague wrote on these points.") There is simply no justification for presenting a surrogate witness to report the testimonial statement made by another witness who has not been subjected to confrontation and whom the state cannot or would rather not produce.
5. The state should not be allowed to shift the burden of presenting the witness to the defendant. I have said that a simple notice-and-demand statute should be constitutionally acceptable. But the confrontation right is not satisfied by providing that the defendant may call the technician as his own witness. The passive language of the Confrontation Clause suggests that such a burden-shifting statute is unacceptable. So does the fact that, given the Compulsory Process Clause, the Confrontation Clause would be rendered a virtual nullity if such a statute were valid. But to my mind, the most significant factor is that practical considerations make clear that telling the defendant, "You may call this technician whose report has been entered against you" is simply not the equivalent of telling the defendant, "You may cross-examine the prosecution witness who has just testified against you." My pending petition in Briscoe v. Virginia explores the reasons why this is so.