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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: D052885
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/31/2009
Subsequent History: review granted 12/2/09 (S177046)
Summary

A lab report containing blood alcohol results was inadmissible hearsay evidence. Lopez appealed her conviction for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, contending that the admission into evidence of a blood alcohol lab report violated her constitutional right to confront witnesses prohibited under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36. The appellate court affirmed, but the California Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case back with directions to reconsider in light of the opinion of the Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 129 S. Ct. 2527. In this opinion, the appellate court reconsidered its prior one and reversed the judgment. It was error under Crawford and Melendez-Diaz to admit into evidence the lab report. The report is indistinguishable from the certificates in Melendez-Diaz, and was therefore testimonial hearsay admitted in violation of the confrontation clause of the Constitution. Since it cannot be shown that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, the admission of the report was prejudicial error.