Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sandy Willliams: The confrontation clause and DNA witnesses. Andrew Cohen asks where is concern for the accuracy of forensic evidence? The Atlantic.

STORY: "The Supreme Court splinters apart over the confrontation clause," by Andrew Cohen, published by The Atlantic on June 19, 2012.

GIST: "The case, styled Williams v. Illinois, generated no fewer than four separate opinions, no clear and meaningful majority ruling, and another plain-spoken dissent from Justice Elena Kagan, who called out her colleagues for "endorsing a prosecutorial dodge." Here's the dodge: At Sandy Williams' Illinois rape trial in 2006, a trial held without a jury, prosecutors got an expert witness to testify that there was, indeed, a DNA "match" between samples from Williams and from the victim. However, the witness against Williams that day was not the laboratory analyst who had compiled the scientific information upon which the testimony was based. The incriminating trial testimony came instead from a "state-employed scientist" who had no relationship whatsoever with the contents of the report. Prosecutors could have called the folks who had undertaken the research that comprised the report. But they didn't. They instead used a witness, Sandra Lambatos, who was unfamiliar even with the general details of the testing protocols at the lab that produced the incriminating report. Williams' attorneys objected to this at trial, arguing that her testimony had deprived Williams of his Sixth Amendment right to confront the accusers against him. The trial judge didn't buy his argument. And neither did a state appellate court.........And that's what this case comes down to -- a wink and a nod. You would think that a criminal justice system that has been confronted lately by so many awfully inaccurate convictions would be looking for ways to increase the accuracy of the forensic evidence which makes its way into court. But whatever force the Williams "plurality" has cuts the other way, excusing prosecutors and judges for settling for evidentiary short cuts at critical parts of a criminal case. Surely, this is no way to insure more accurate verdicts."


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.