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Bullcoming v. New Mexico

United States Supreme Court
131 S. Ct. 2705 (2011)


Facts

In August 2005, Donald Bullcoming (defendant) was suspected of driving drunk. The police obtained a warrant for a blood-alcohol analysis. A sample of Bullcoming’s blood was drawn at a hospital and sent to the New Mexico Department of Health, Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD) for testing. The test was administered by Curtis Caylor, a forensic analyst. Caylor signed a certification and issued a report averring that the test was properly administered and that Bullcoming’s blood sample contained very high blood alcohol content. At trial, the prosecution introduced Caylor’s report but did not call Caylor to the stand. The prosecution instead sought to call Gerasimos Razatos, a scientist at SLD. Razatos had not taken part in or observed the testing of Bullcoming’s blood sample. Bullcoming opposed introduction of the report without Caylor’s testimony, on grounds that it would violate his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him. The trial court overruled his objection and allowed the report as a business record. Bullcoming was convicted of aggravated driving while intoxicated. The New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the conviction on grounds that: (1) Caylor merely transcribed the results of the testing conducted by machine and made no independent judgment himself, and (2) Bullcoming’s right to confront was preserved because Razatos was qualified as an expert to interpret the machine results.

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Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

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