Friday, February 11, 2011

Melendez-Diaz, Not Just A Case Name, An Acquitted Defendant

Although I now can't remember the name, when I was a young lawyer I remember seeing a crowd outside a misdemeanor courtroom. I walked up and asked someone what was going on. I was told that a defendant, who I only knew through the name of the famous case, was in the courtroom. His appeal unsuccessful, he was taking a plea. It was an odd moment, names like "Miranda" "Brady" "Gideon," and "Allen" always existed as cases, not real people in real courtrooms.

Yesterday, Luis Melendez-Diaz, was acquitted in his re-trial.

We in the criminal justice system know him as "Melendez-Diaz."

His previous appeal went to the United States Supreme Court on the issue of whether the Sixth Amendment required forensic experts were required to testify in court

Yes, said the Court. This overturned the law in Massachusetts law permitted the admission of reports in lieu of testimony.

For a detailed analysis of the future of Melendez-Diaz, the case, not the defendant, go here.

So now the chemist testified.

...during Melendez-Diaz's retrial, a chemist from the state Department of Public Health testified that the substance allegedly found in the back seat of a police cruiser with Melendez-Diaz and two other men tested "positive for the presence of naturally occurring cocaine."

But the jury said no, not guilty.

Bittersweet for Melendez-Diaz, he's serving a 10 year sentence - for another drug trafficking conviction.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.Share/Save/ rules Post to Twitter