The Confrontation Clause in Illinois DUI Cases

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right for the accused to confront his accuser. This language seems straight-forward enough, but the scope and limitations of this right is ever evolving. Two Supreme Court cases appeared to be moving in a direction more favorable to defense attorneys, but a recent Illinois case has muddied the waters and moved the courts away from guaranteeing the rights of the accused. A defendant who is on trial for his freedom should be guaranteed the right to confront a person who is helping the prosecution by providing evidence in favor of a guilty verdict. Many of the cases involved in this controversy include the admission of a blood-alcohol test when the person who performed the test is unavailable to testify. Admitting this evidence promotes fraudulent testing practices and manipulation by the testing laboratory, many of which are administered by law enforcement agencies. National Research Council of the National Academies, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward 6-1 (Prepublication Copy Feb. 2009).

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