U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Topic of Interest: Forensic Testimony, Smith v. Arizona

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2023
3 pages

This document summarizes the Supreme Court case Smith v. Arizona and provides additional context.


This document provides a case synopsis of Smith v. Arizona, Supreme Court decisions related to expert witness testimony, and example situations that may add complexity to satisfying the Confrontation Clause. It also presents questions for forensic analysts to consider when preparing their case notes and reports. On September 29, 2023, the Supreme Court granted certiorari for the case of Smith v. Arizona (docket 22-899). The key question before the Court is “whether the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment permits the prosecution in a criminal trial to present testimony by a substitute expert conveying the testimonial statements of a nontestifying forensic analyst, on the grounds that (a) the testifying expert offers some independent opinion and the analyst’s statements are offered not for their truth but to explain the expert’s opinion, and (b) the defendant did not independently seek to subpoena the analyst.” Members of the forensic and court communities are awaiting the Supreme Court’s response. Depending on its stance, this decision could result in myriad implications pursuant to the admission of forensic evidence compliant with the Confrontation Clause, particularly regarding substitute witnesses. 

Date Published: December 1, 2023