Two Rulings in Sixth Amendment Cases Stand

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The Mississippi Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its decisions in two cases dealing with the issue of a defendant's right to confront his accusers.

In drug cases from Harrison and Tunica counties, the court let stand decisions against defendants who had sought to question the analysts who tested the illegal drugs. Instead, prosecutors put on the stand laboratory supervisors who only reviewed and verified the results.

Legal scholars say the right to confront witnesses has been weaker in practice than most people believe and has been trumped by state exceptions allowing secondhand testimony.

A minority of the Supreme Court said admission of the lab reports, without a prior opportunity to cross-examine the analyst, violated the men's constitutional right to confrontation and denied them a fair trial.