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Supreme Court Rules DUI Lab Report Cannot Be Admitted As Evidence without Testimony

July 25, 2011 | Posted In Recent News - Criminal Law

The Supreme Court has ruled that a written lab report cannot be submitted as evidence when the technician who prepared and signed the report is not present in the courtroom to testify.

The ruling comes in Bullcoming vs New Mexico.  In August 2005, Donald Bullcoming was involved in an accident.  He had been driving a car that rear-ended a pickup truck.  He failed field sobriety tests, at which point law enforcement officers arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol.  He was submitted to a blood-alcohol test.

However, during his trial, the technician who had run the test and filed the report was not called in to testify.  Apparently, the technician had been on unpaid leave at the time.  Instead of the technician, the state attempted to introduce the report to the jury accompanied by the testimony of another technician employed at the lab.  The defense lawyers objected on the grounds that this violated Bullcoming’s Sixth Amendment rights. 

But the state held that the written report was merely a business record and argued it could be introduced without the testimony of the technician who prepared the report.  Bullcoming was convicted of aggravated DWI and when he appealed, a New Mexico appeals court upheld his conviction. 

However, the Supreme Court has disagreed.  According to the Supreme Court ruling, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution provides that a person under trial has the right to be confronted with witnesses against him, and be given the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.  The state introduced another technician, in place of the one who had run the test and signed the report, and this violated Bullcoming’s Sixth Amendment rights.

The New Jersey DUI lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with DUI across New Jersey. They also have in-depth experience with criminal appeals and work to ensure your rights are not violated.

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