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Melendez-Diaz Wins Again

Martin Finucane of The Boston Globe reports Luis Melendez-Diaz, the star of the Supreme Court's 2009 lab report-Confrontation Clause case, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, was acquitted last week in his retrial for cocaine trafficking.

In this second go-around, the Commonwealth proceeded under the new rules laid out by the Supreme Court, calling to the stand a chemist to testify that the white, bagged powder found in the backseat of a police cruiser with Melendez-Diaz and two others in 2001 was indeed cocaine.  In his original trial, prosecutors had submitted sworn "certificates of analysis" from the lab indicating the substance was cocaine.

Did the presence of the chemists in the courtroom tip the scales?  Unlikely.  Defense attorney Margaret Fox claimed that this "was a case that really seemed to be about guilt by association... the [second] jury got it right."  Proof of the makeup of the white powdery substance stored in small plastic baggies comprised the crux of the Supreme Court's opinion, but appears to have been somewhat irrelevant in both of Melendez-Diaz's trials.  It seems instead that a different group of 12 simply came to a different conclusion on some other element(s) of the offense.  

A spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's pointed to the time gap: "We're 10 years out from the original incident, and the passage of so much time only makes a case tougher to try."

As a side note, the acquitted man is currently serving a 10-year sentence for drug trafficking in another Massachusetts county.

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