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Name: People v. Smith
Case #: A124895
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/28/2011
Subsequent History: 6/15/11 rev. granted (S192048)

An expert’s testimony which is based on analysis conducted by a different analyst does not violate the confrontation clause if the testifying expert has made independent findings. Appellant argued the testimony of a supervising DNA analyst violated his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation because the expert did not personally conduct all of the DNA testing about which she testified. The court held this testimony was proper under People v. Geier (2007) 41 Cal.4th 555, which, in the court’s opinion, survives Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 129 S.Ct. 2527. Live testimony rendered by a supervising analyst is readily distinguishable from admission of written affidavits that were found to violate the confrontation clause in Melendez-Diaz. The expert in this case testified about the methods used by the forensic scientist in this case. She also personally reviewed the results in the case, discussed them with the analyst, conducted her own analysis, and rendered her personal conclusion. And unlike Melendez-Diaz, all of this testimony was subject to cross-examination of defense counsel. (Ed. note: the issue is currently before the California Supreme Court.)