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AG To Argue Before Supreme Court

Publication Date: 
November 10, 2008
The Boston Globe
By John C. Drake

Jeffrey Fisher, co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, will argue for Luis E. Melendez-Diaz in the U.S. Supreme Court case Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (07-591). Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will argue for the commonwealth, and Lisa H. Schertler, assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, will argue for the United States as amicus.

The Boston Globe reports:

Today's case, which justices will hear at 1 p.m., involves Luis Melendez-Diaz, who was convicted in 2004 of drug trafficking. Boston police arrested Melendez-Diaz in November 2001 and seized a substance, which chemists at the state Department of Public Health later determined to be cocaine, from his car and from the buyer. Drug analysis certificates from the lab were presented as evidence in trial.

Melendez-Diaz is arguing that his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers was violated because prosecutors were not required to present the chemists in court to defend their findings.


...Lawyers for Melendez-Diaz say the Constitution requires prosecutors to make witnesses against the defendant available for cross-examination, and that it is not up to defendants to arrange the confrontation.

Lawyers for Melendez-Diaz include Mary Rogers of Salem and Jeffrey L. Fisher of Stanford Law School.

"Allowing the prosecution to present its case through extra-judicial declarations - subject only to defendants' subpoena power - deprives defendants of the ancient right to stand 'face-to-face' with adverse witnesses as the witnesses convey incriminating evidence on direct examination," lawyers for Melendez-Diaz wrote in a response brief filed with the Supreme Court in advance of today's hearing.