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King Argues DWI Case In U.S. High Court

Publication Date: 
March 03, 2011
Albuquerque Journal
Michael Coleman

Professor Jeffrey Fisher's oral argument is featured in the following Albuquerque Journal article covering a "driving while intoxicated" case heard before the Supreme Court. Michael Coleman reports:

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King tried to convince the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday that the prosecution of a 2005 drunken driving case in New Mexico was legal, even though defense lawyers never had a chance to cross-examine the lab technician who took the driver's blood sample.

The central question before the justices was whether a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine witnesses extends to the analyst who prepares a report about blood tested in a DWI case.


Jeffrey Fisher, co-director of the Supreme Court litigation clinic at Stanford Law School and the attorney appointed to argue for the defendant Tuesday, disagreed. Fisher implored the court to reverse a New Mexico Supreme Court decision upholding the driver's conviction, arguing that it violated the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. That clause says that, "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to be confronted with the witnesses against him."


Fisher argued that a surrogate witness to Bullcoming's blood test wasn't sufficient under the law.

"Surrogate witness procedure violates all four components of the right to confrontation," Fisher argued. "It quite obviously violates the defendant's right to have the witness testify in his presence, in the presence of the jury so the jury can observe it, and under oath, as happened in this case."