School of Government Professor Jessica Smith authored an informative post entitled Imposing Fees for Forensic Expert Testimony — Is It Constitutional? on the North Carolina Criminal Law blog this morning. The post looks at a new $600 fee imposed on defendants when a State Crime Lab or a local crime lab analyst testifies at trial regarding forensic analysis. Jessica Smith discusses whether this new fee is constitutional as applied to defendants exercising their Sixth Amendment confrontation right that was newly declared in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. Anyone considering challenging the imposition of this fee should take a look at the arguments for and against its constitutionality in this post.
Karl E Knudsen
NCGS 7A-304(a)(7) requires the $600 lab fee to be paid upon conviction whether the analyst testifies or not. Don’t see how the fee implicates constitutional confrontation rights since it applies whether there is a trial or not.
Sarah Rackley Olson
Karl – the new fee in Sec. 18B.19 of the 2013 budget bill is in addition to the $600 lab fee in NCGS 7A-304(a)(7) or (8). You are correct that the $600 lab fee in sections 7 and 8 applies whether or not the analyst testifies. The new fee applies only if the analyst testifies, which raises the question of whether it chills a defendant’s constitutional right to confrontation.
Karl E Knudsen
Gotcha. The article didn’t give a cite to the statute that I could find. (sec. 18B.19 of the budget bill) didn’t get me anywhere. I stand corrected.