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Bullcoming v. New Mexico


The defendant was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. At his trial, the trial court permitted the government to admit as evidence a forensic laboratory report which indicated the defendant’s intoxication. The prosecution did not call the analyst that created and signed the report, but rather, brought forward another analyst that was familiar with the laboratory’s procedures.


Whether the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause requires the government to produce the testimony of the analyst that obtained the results found in the report?


Yes. Neither the report nor a knowledgeable surrogate is a satisfactory substitute for effective cross-examination guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.


The Court has consistently held “[A]s a rule, if an out-of-court statement is testimonial in nature, it may not be introduced against the accused at trial unless the witness who made the statement is unavailable and the accused has had a prior opportunity to confront that witness.” A statement is “testimonial in nature” if its primary purpose is to prove “past events potentially relevant to later criminal prosecution.” This rule is designed to protect the defendant’s Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause right to challenge adversarial testimonial evidence. The Court refused to create a “forensic evidence” exception to this rule.


564 U.S. 647, 131 S. Ct. 2705 (2011)

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