Massachusetts Drug Convictions Against Two Somerville Brothers Overturned

Saying that the constitutional rights of Raymond and Ronald Mendes were violated during trial, Massachusetts’s Appeals Court has overturned their drug convictions: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and drug violation in a school or park zone. Raymond also had been convicted of possession of ecstasy. The court, however, in its 2-1 ruling determined that the drug analysis certificates presented during trial were not enough to prove that the substances confiscated from their apartment were in fact marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy. Police seized what they thought were illegal drugs from the brothers’ home on October 21, 2006.

The court, however, is now saying that the defendants should have had an opportunity to question the chemists that tested the drugs taken from their residence and that not having the chance to cross-examine the chemical analyst that prepared the certificates of drug analysis was a violation of the brothers’ rights per the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution’s confrontation clause.

It was just last year that the US Supreme Court found that the state of Massachusetts was in routine violation of drug defendants’ rights whenever it did not have an actual chemist testify about a seized substance that was an illegal drug. This year, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the ruling should apply to cases going as far back as 2005 when a state law started allowing criminal trials without chemists.

Drug convictions overturned against 2 Somerville brothers, Boston Herald, December 28, 2010
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Cornell University Law School, November 10, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Controlled Substances Act, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Drug Laws, Sec.State.Ma.Us
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