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The Sufficiency of the Expert

After the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009), forensic analysts’ reports are considered testimonial evidence. This means that a defendant has the right to confront such evidence pursuant to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Since a report can’t answer questions, that means the author of any such report (or a qualified substitute) is subject to questioning. However, the author will also have to be qualified as an expert and meet the applicable standard for testifying as such. As the court performs its gatekeeping function of allowing admissible evidence and keeping out inadmissible evidence, this can result in all, none, or some of a report being allowed into evidence. The case below is an example of the impact of Melendez-Diaz.

Read or review the People v. Colon (Casetext) case.Links to an external site.

Now it is time to write your brief! The first section will be titled “Facts.” Write a short paragraph or two summarizing the facts of the case. Make sure that anyone reading your summary would understand the crux of what happened in the case. Next, identify the issue the Court was deciding; place the issue (phrased as a question), in a section labeled “Issue.” Next, set forth the Court’s ruling with the label of “Ruling.”

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The ruling answers the question(s) set out in the issue section. In the next section, “Analysis,” write a short paragraph or two summarizing the court’s decision. This should set forth the reasons for the court’s decision and the law relied upon to reach its conclusion. Finally, in the “Conclusion,” set out what actually happened, i.e., what happened to the parties in this case. After the conclusion of your brief, write a paragraph or two that discusses your opinion of the case. 


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