WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Virginia Forensics Experts Facing More Court Appearances

Play associated audio

A 2009 Supreme Court decision is forcing technicians in Virginia's forensic lab to perform drug tests and show up in court to testify about the results. Now, the state is trying to help the techs keep up with demand, because they don't expect the pace to slack off anytime soon. 

In Melendez-Diaz vs. Massachusetts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it violates citizens' Sixth Amendment rights to present forensic test results in court without providing the opportunity for the defendant to confront the person that performed the tests. 

So examiners must now testify when subpoenaed in lieu of merely relying on test results. And that takes time, says Virginia Chemistry Program Manager Linda Jackson.

"It certainly has increased about 10 times the amount of hours out of the laboratory which, obviously, does take away from time where an analyst can actually be analyzing cases," Jackson says. At the same time, state labs' drug case workloads have grown significantly, 

In order to lighten that load, video testimony can be used in some courts. In others, the courts designate DUI days on which all the related cases are scheduled together to reduce the time impact for toxicology staff

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

Who Are The Possible Candidates To Fill Scalia's Seat?

Any pick by President Obama is sure to touch off a tough confirmation fight. But who will be at the center of the fray? Here are a few likely candidates.
NPR

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.