CAAF decides LNC Sweeney’s case

United States v. Sweeney.  This is a Crawford-Blazier case.

In the Blazier cases, we set forth a straightforward path for analyzing the admissibility of drug testing reports under the Confrontation Clause.

. . .

we hold that Appellant was denied his right to confront the witnesses against him, and we remand to the court below for consideration of whether the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

. . .

What we have not previously decided is what precisely remains of Magyari after Melendez-Diaz, Blazier I, Blazier II, and Bullcoming.  Answering that question here makes resolution of this case relatively straightforward.

We have been arguing since Crawford itself that the accessioning report at the lab creates a confrontation issue.  I think Sweeney finally addresses that.  When the technician accesses samples from the USPS they log them in.  Fine, that’s an administrative event the sort of which can be offered the hearsay.  However, once the technician writes a comment about the condition of the sample, they are giving an opinion not merely recording a fact.  And, when offered at a trial it is testimonial.

Also I’m pleased to see that the court rejected the rather facile excuse that the military urinalysis program is not for a law enforcement purpose – at least once the sample goes from the IA process into the GC//MS process.

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