The states and federal courts of appeal are split on whether a lab report can be presented to a jury in a criminal case without letting the defendant’s lawyer question the person who actually did the testing. Analysts’ reports are common for often uncontroversial parts of a case, such as whether the plant-like substance in the bag that the defendant was selling was really marijuana, or whether the blood-alcohol level of the driver who smelled like booze and repeatedly crossed the center line of the highway was above the legal limit. These reports are going to be a massive part of the landscape of criminal justice as DNA evidence becomes more frequently used in criminal prosecutions.

DNA is the future of our criminal justice system. The federal government, and many state governments, already collect DNA from anyone convicted of a felony. These DNA samples are increasingly used as an active part of the investigation of crimes. Already several states name DNA samples in charging documents to try to preserve the statute of limitations until the owner of the DNA can be located.

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