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Criminal Procedure — Confrontation Clause — harmless error

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Criminal Procedure — Confrontation Clause — harmless error

Even though it violated the Confrontation Clause for a chemist who did not analyze the controlled substances at issue to testify, the error was harmless.

“For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that any Confrontation Clause error that occurred during Block’s testimony was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Only two aspects of Block’s testimony potentially present a Confrontation Clause problem: Block’s testimony that Hanson followed standard procedures in testing the substances that Turner distributed to the undercover officer, and his testimony that he reached the same conclusion about the nature of the substances that Hanson did. In both respects, Block necessarily was relying on out-of-court statements contained in Hanson’s notes and report. These portions of Block’s testimony strengthened the government’s case; and, conversely, their exclusion would have diminished the quantity and quality of evidence showing that the substances Turner distributed comprised cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine. However, apart from Block’s testimony, there was other evidence indicating that the substances were crack cocaine, and Turner himself did not contest that they were, in fact, crack cocaine. We are therefore confident that any error did not affect the outcome of the trial.”


08-3109 U.S. v. Turner

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crabb, J., Rovner, J.

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