Document Type




This Note examines how the Supreme Court’s holding in the Melendez-Diaz case has impacted autopsy reports as evidentiary tools in criminal cases. Part I offers some background on autopsy reports and forensic pathology, discusses key evidentiary rules, and the history of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause leading up to Melendez-Diaz. Part II explores the breadth and consequences of Melendez-Diaz, particularly as they impact autopsy reports. Part III analyzes how autopsy reports differ fundamentally from many other types of forensic reports, notably because of policy issues they implicate. Finally, Part IV defines and presents the “lean rule” as an alternative for MEs and courts alike that does not implicate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment interests, that provides the prosecution with facts and observations that can still be used should the particular ME be unavailable, and that allows MEs to continue performing their duties in a relatively uninterrupted fashion.



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