Left-Right Coalition on Supreme Court Defends Right to Challenge Witnesses

Monday, November 28, 2011
Led by Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court has been reversing convictions for murder, drug dealing, wife beating and drunken driving on grounds that defendants have been denied their 6th Amendment rights.
The 6th Amendment guarantees a person’s right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against them.
In June, an unlikely coalition of conservative judges Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined with liberal-leaning judges Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to overturn the drunken driving conviction of a New Mexico man because the lab analyst who testified at his trial did not actually work on his blood sample.
As Scalia sees it, defendants should be allowed to challenge witnesses and bar the testimony of those who do not or cannot testify in court—even if they’re dead.
Next month the court will hear the case of a Chicago rapist who claims his 6th Amendment right to confront his accusers was violated because prosecutors did not put on the witness stand a lab technician from Maryland who conducted the DNA test that sent him to prison.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

Criminal Defendants Find an Unlikely Friend in Justice Scalia (by David Savage, Los Angeles Times) 


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