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Edward L. Meras v. D.K. Sisto; Attorney General of the State of California

April 23, 2012

EDWARD L. MERAS, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
D.K. SISTO; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California John M. Dixon Jr., Magistrate Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 1:07-cv-00400-JMD

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kozinski, Chief Judge:

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Argued and Submitted November 15, 2011-San Francisco, California

Before: Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judge, and Robert W. Gettleman, District Judge.*fn1

Opinion by Chief Judge Kozinski; Concurrence by Judge Bea

OPINION

Edward L. Meras, a California state prisoner, appeals the district court's order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims that testimony introduced during his trial violated his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. He's probably right, but he loses anyway.

Background

Intruders broke into Richard Peabody's home, stabbed him multiple times and stole property. Soon after, police found a bloodstained pair of blue jeans in Meras's apartment. Criminalist Jennai Lawson performed DNA analysis on the blood and produced a lab report concluding that it was Peabody's. Lawson testified at Meras's first trial, which ended in a hung jury. She was busy during Meras's second trial, so the state called her supervisor, Jill Spriggs, to testify to the contents of her report. Meras objected that Lawson's report was hearsay, and introducing it through Spriggs would violate his right to confront witnesses against him. The court overruled the objection, holding that the report was admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule, and allowed Spriggs to testify to its contents:

Q. [D]oes the file reflect where Ms. Lawson got [the jeans] from?

A. Yes, she got them from the freezer.

Q. Great. Did she also receive blood samples associated with . . . Edward ...


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