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Name: People v. Steppe
Case #: E053348
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/14/2013
Summary

Technical reviewer’s testimony, which was based on results of DNA test performed by another analyst, did not violate the confrontation clause. Appellant was convicted of murder and other offenses and sentenced to multiple life terms. On appeal he challenged the testimony of the technical reviewer of the DNA analysis in the case on confrontation clause grounds, which the trial court admitted over defense objection. Held: Affirmed. The reviewer’s testimony that was based on raw data was proper. While it was not established how the raw data was generated in this case, a machine printout is not subject to cross-examination and there is no authority that prohibits an expert from relying on raw data. Regarding the reviewer’s reference to conclusions reached by another analyst who did not testify, the jury had already heard evidence that reports prepared by the lab required a concurring technical review prior to issuance so the jury necessarily knew that the analyst and reviewer reached the same conclusions. Further, in Williams v. Illinois (2012) 132 S.Ct. 2221 and People v. Lopez (2012) 55 Cal.4th 569, the courts found that lab reports which contain conclusions of the type admitted here, “lack the degree of formality and solemnity to be considered testimonial for purposes of the confrontation clause.” In any event, any possible error was harmless given the overwhelming evidence of guilt.