On November 19, 2018, the US Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Vanessa Stuart v. Alabama. In this case, the defendant was charged with driving under the influence as a result of an alcohol test conducted by a blood analyst. The defendant sought to cross-examine the analyst. However, the prosecution refused to bring in the same analyst that did the test and instead had a different scientist testify.
The defendant appealed arguing that she had the Sixth Amendment right to confront the analyst who personally performed the analysis. The US Supreme Court previously ruled in Bullcoming v. New Mexico, 564 U.S. 647 (2011) that the “accused’s right is to be confronted with the analyst who made the certification, unless that analyst is unavailable at trial, and the accused had an opportunity, pretrial, to cross-examine that particular scientist.” Id. at 652.
However, in the Stuart case, the other scientist was allowed to testify. By denying to hear this appeal, Stuart’s conviction is upheld.
Since the US Supreme Court does not write opinions on why they decline to hear an appeal, it is not clear exactly why the Court declined to hear this case. However, if any justices disagree with the denial, they can write a dissent. Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor joined in a dissent stating that Stuart’s Sixth Amendment right was violated and that the Supreme Court should grant review.
If you have a DUI or DWI charge that you think may be affected by this decision, call Jason T. Komninos, Esq. for a consultation at 201-343-4622.