The United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday, that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to cross-examine the scientists who prepare reports which are introduced at trial. The list of scientists would include chemists who test for the presence of controlled substances, fingerprint analysts and ballistics experts as well as many others. Although the ruling is an important one for the rights of those accused of crimes the ruling is likely to have little impact in New York where State laws already gives defense lawyers the right to cross-examine scientific witnesses.
The ruling is an extension of the 2004 Supreme Court decision Crawford v. Washington which limited the permissible uses of hearsay in criminal trials under the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause. The Supreme Court seems to be expressing continued concerned over the use of hearsay (out of Court statements) in criminal trials.