July 21, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Melendez-Diaz vs Massachusetts, that presenting certificates by state laboratory analysts saying material in question was cocaine -- without the lab analysts present in court for cross-examination -- violated the accused's Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him. At least one governor, Tim Kaine of Virginia, is taking the ruling seriously, calling an August special session of the General Assembly to address it. Kaine announced in a release today that he will authorize the use of resources from the Economic Contingency Fund to allow forensic professionals to testify as needed in criminal trials in the commonwealth. Kaine said that statutory changes will also be required to manage pending cases, and those will also be taken up during the special session.