Virginia Forensics Experts Facing More Court Appearances | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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

WAMU 88.5

'Historic Landmark' Status Complicates Corcoran Renovations

Plans by George Washington University to renovate the Corcoran Gallery of Art may be thrown for a loop after D.C.'s historic preservation board designated much of the interior of the building as a historic landmark.

NPR

In This Museum, Visitors Can Eat At The Exhibits

The Southern Museum of Food and Beverage in New Orleans chronicles the eats and drinks of the Southern states. And it may be one of the only museums where visitors can imbibe while viewing exhibits.
NPR

Staten Island Candidates Avoid Talk Of Eric Garner Case

In the New York Congressional district where an an unarmed black man died at the hands of police last year, neither candidate for a special congressional election is using the death to score points.
NPR

As Health Apps Hop On The Apple Watch, Privacy Will Be Key

The notion of receiving nutrition advice from artificial intelligence on your wrist may seem like science fiction. But health developers are betting this kind of behavior will become the norm.

Leave a Comment

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