Supreme Courts of Ohio and Iowa Rule That Pre-Trial Statements Made by a Child Are Generally Inadmissible at Trial If the Police Were Involved in Obtaining the Statements and the Defendant Has Not Had an Opportunity to Cross-Examine the Child; United States Supreme Court Declines to Review Rulings
Hafemeister, Thomas L., Developments in Mental Health Law
The Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause guarantees criminal defendants the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses who provide testimony against the defendant. This becomes an issue in criminal trials when victims or witnesses to a crime have previously made statements to someone (e.g., to a police officer or a health care provider) but are unavailable or unwilling to testify at trial. If this person's testimony is essential to the prosecution's case but inadmissible under the Confrontation Clause, the prosecution may not be able to meet the requirement that it prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The purpose of the Confrontation Clause and the right to cross-examine witnesses is to assure that the evidence introduced at trial is truthful and accurate by giving defendants an opportunity to test the veracity and reliability of a witness by (1) posing questions to the witness that challenge the witness' recall of events and (2) enabling the jury or judge to observe the demeanor of the witness while providing testimony.
In recent years, the courts have tended to carve out exceptions to this Sixth Amendment right to enable child witnesses to avoid providing trial testimony when it may be a traumatic experience for the child. In Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 840 (1990), the United States Supreme Court held that the Confrontation Clause does not "categorically prohibit" testimony via closed circuit television by a child victim of sexual abuse if in-court testimony would be traumatic for the child. The Court determined that this approach adequately ensured that the testimony was both reliable and subject to rigorous adversarial testing in a manner functionally equivalent to that accorded live, in-person testimony.
However, in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), the Supreme Court established that the test for determining …
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Publication information: Article title: Supreme Courts of Ohio and Iowa Rule That Pre-Trial Statements Made by a Child Are Generally Inadmissible at Trial If the Police Were Involved in Obtaining the Statements and the Defendant Has Not Had an Opportunity to Cross-Examine the Child; United States Supreme Court Declines to Review Rulings. Contributors: Hafemeister, Thomas L. - Author. Magazine title: Developments in Mental Health Law. Volume: 27. Issue: 2 Publication date: July 2008. Page number: 66+. © 2009 Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Policy. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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