Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Third petition on surrogate experts

Tim Provis, counsel for the petitioner in Roalson v. Wisconsin, No. 15-6037, which presents an issue similar to Griep and Katso, has kindly provided me with copies of the papers on cert.  Here are links to the Petition, the State's Brief in Opposition, and the Reply Brief supporting the Petition.

14 comments:

Paul said...

What "statements" by the absent expert (in any of these three cases) was "testimonial," as that term is defined by the Williams purality?

None.

No "statement" by any of the three absent experts was "formal" (as that term is defined by Justice Thomas). And, more importantly, no "statement" by any of those experts was "primarily" intended (by any governmental official) to "accuse" a particular "targeted" person of a crime (under Justice Alito's formulation).

The fact that the government may have identified their suspect (or even arrested that person) at the time the absent expert performed his/her work does not mean that the suspect was "targeted" (by the government) at the time the expert performs their work.

In addition, given the substance of the absent expert's work (i.e., determining the nature of forensic evidence), their "primary" purpose (in performing their work) was not to "accuse" someone of a crime. At the time they performed their work, these analysts had no idea what the result of their work would be; no idea if it would inculpate or exculpate the identified (but not "targeted") suspect.

"Targeting" an "accused" of a "crime" is what happened in Raleigh's Case. And that type of accusatory, abusive government conduct is far removed from the circumstances surrounding a government expert's attempting to determine the nature of a substance, a DNA profile or the cause of death of a victim.

So, in the end, these three cases are not about "end runs" around the Confrontation Clause or "surrogate experts." Rather, these cases once again bring into focus the same issue that the Court has been struggling with for the last 11 years: How to define a "testimonial" statement" Or, stated differently, which hearsay declarants are "witnesses" against the accused for purpose of the Confrontation Clause.

Tim Provis said...

Paul has the facts wrong. If he reads my cert reply brief in Roalson he will find the actual analyst's report is "testimonial" by any test used in Williams.

Rich Friedman said...

And as for Katso, I expect to be putting in a reply brief in support of the petition (the Government's Brief in Opposition is now due in February); while the case is going on, I won't make outside substantive comments on it.

Paul said...

Tim,

What are the specific statements of the absent analyst that you believe were testimonial? Your cert. petition briefs don't make that clear.

I believe the proper resolution of your argument first requires identifying each such statement.

After such identification, and assuming that the testifying analyst presented such statements to the jury via his testimony, each particular statement would be tested against the Williams plurality test.

If, under the Williams plurality test, none of the statements made by the absent analyst were testimonial, that analyst's entire report would have been admissible without offending the CC.

Respectfully,

Paul

Tim Provis said...

Paul,

Please review page 6-7 of my cert petition. The testifying expert repeated verbatim the conclusions from the actual analyst's report.

You are also hung up on the Williams plurality test. It is not binding on anyone because it is only the opinion of 4 justices and several lower courts have rejected it.

Tim Provis

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