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High Court Justices Grill Both Sides In Confrontation Clause Case

Publication Date: 
January 12, 2010
The National Law Journal
Tony Mauro

Professor Jeffrey Fisher, who argued the Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts case in the Supreme Court last year, is mentioned in teh context of a case this year that could reverse the ruling. Tony Mauro reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts caused an uproar among prosecutors by interpreting the Constitution to require that forensic and other evidence be presented mainly in person, not by affidavit.

On Monday, the Court heard arguments in a case that could be a vehicle for reversing that 5-4 decision (pdf) less than a year after its issuance. But that outcome appears far from certain.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was not on the Court for the Melendez-Diaz case, sent out mixed signals on whether she would provide the vote needed for reversal. (Her predecessor David Souter was in the majority.) As has become her custom, Sotomayor actively questioned both sides during Monday's argument in Briscoe v. Virginia.



Sitting at the defendants' counsel table with Friedman was Stanford Law School professor Jeffrey Fisher. Either Fisher or Friedman has argued the defense side in a series of cases that, since 2004, have revived the confrontation clause as a tool for defendants.