NM court overrules precedent on pretrial rights

September 2, 2013 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s highest court has ruled that defendants don’t have a constitutional right to confront and question witnesses providing testimony against them at pretrial hearings.

The state Supreme Court’s decision [auth] overruled a legal precedent on the question set by the justices in 1969.

The court said last week the constitution’s confrontation right applies only to criminal trials, which determine whether a defendant is guilty, and not to pretrial hearings that decide whether there’s probable cause a crime has been committed and a case should go to trial.

The court rejected arguments by a man charged with drug offenses who contended his rights were violated because a drug report was admitted as evidence during a preliminary hearing without allowing him to cross-examine the laboratory analyst who prepared the report.

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