Gov. Tim Kaine says the state is close to a solution that would alleviate concerns from prosecutors about a recent Supreme Court decision.
Justices, in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, ruled that forensic evidence in drug and drunken driving cases is inadmissible unless the technician who conducted the lab tests comes to court to testify.
That’s not how the system works in Virginia. And, as I reported Friday, prosecutors are worried that this decision could cause widespread case dismissals.
Kaine says his staff is close to reaching a temporary solution, which could last until next year’s legislative session.
The governor said that staffers, prosecutors and legislators have been involved in “fairly intense dialogue” since late last week.
Those talks will culminate in a meeting on Wednesday, which Kaine expects to yield changes in both procedure and resources that will help avoid a special legislative session.
“If we needed a special session, we would do it,” Kaine said, adding that calling lawmakers back to Richmond during the summer would be “a hassle.”
Under the tentative plan, the General Assembly would still have to address a long-term fix when legislators return to the Capitol in January.
The governor said the solution is likely to involve the use of the state’s contingency fund.
“I think we can cover the cost in the short term.”
Kaine wouldn’t say exactly what the money would be used for, or what the price tag could be.
One option that could be on the table, though, is a way for analysts to testify via video conference. Courts routinely use the technology for bond hearings and arraignments.