Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trying to get around the Sixth Amendment

Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine has called a special session of the state legislature to get around the Supreme Court's Melendez-Diaz decision that a criminal defendant's confrontation rights are violated when the state is allowed to introduce testimonial affidavits or lab reports into evidence without producing live witnesses.
"If we don't solve it in a special session it really creates a potential problem of people who are charged with very serious crimes being able to escape conviction on technicalities." -- Gov. Timothy Kaine.
The governor, who apparently believes that constitutional protections are "technicalities," decried the cost of producing live witnesses in criminal trials. Funny, I don't recall anything in the Constitution about reducing a state's cost to brand its citizens as criminals for life.

I don't believe you can put a price on protecting an individual from the overreaching arm of the state - particularly when we're talking about a criminal prosecution. If the state is worried about how the three people who calibrate the state's 200 breath test machines are going to get from town to town when subpoenaed for trial, maybe Virginia prosecutors should take a second look at the cases they are prosecuting and decide whether they should be dumped or not.

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