Rapid advances in science and technology have influenced criminal prosecutions as police often utilize advanced technology to obtain evidence that is integral to the prosecution's case against a criminal defendant. Such practices are especially common in cases involving illegal drugs, in which slight variations in the precise measurements of such substances could add or subtract from the lengths of sentences. Often, prosecutors offer this crucial evidence in court through a laboratory report documenting the exact results of the tests performed on the alleged illegal substances. The admission of these lab reports seemingly complies with the rules of evidence of most jurisdictions, but at the same time, this approach may be at odds with a defendant's constitutional right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him." It seems perfectly logical that the defendant in this situation should be able to face the person that produced the drug test results that ultimately lead to the conviction. When the Missouri Supreme Court faced this situation in State v. March, it attempted to resolve the apparent conflict between the rules of evidence and the United States Constitution. Unfortunately for the Missouri Supreme Court and other courts in similar situations, there is no clear guiding light to aid them in resolving these cases. At best, the United States Supreme Court has provided a dim illumination through its recent decisions that have continued to leave courts stumbling around in the shadows in search of a way out of this confrontation confusion.
David A. Doellman,
Crawford Confusion Marches on: The Confrontation Clause and Hearsay Laboratory Drug Reports,
73 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol73/iss2/9