SIXTH AMENDMENT CONFRONTATION CLAUSE
The Sixth Amendment:
The defense, under the Sixth Amendment, must have an opportunity to "confront" and cross-examine witnesses. The Confrontation Clause relates to the common law rule preventing the admission of hearsay, testimony by one witness as to the statements and observations of another person.
The ruling made in OHIO V. ROBERTS (1980) says that an unavailable witness's out-of-court statement may be admitted so long as it has adequate indicia of reliability--i.e., falls within a "firmly rooted hearsay exception" or bears "particularized guarantees of trustworthiness."
The North Carolina General Statute 804 (b)(3) is based on the Roberts decision and the North Carolina Court of Appeals made its decision about point #1 of the Kimble Appeal with the Roberts decision in mind.
NORTH CAROLINA V. RONNIE LEE KIMBLE
FILED IN THE NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS, OCTOBER 3, 2000
APPEAL DENIED <Opinion>
The Appeals Court ruled that the statements made to Nicholes were properly admitted:
Regarding the statements made to Pardee, the Court said that it didn't matter whether they were improperly admitted because the same facts were established through another witness, Mitch Whidden. "Where evidence is properly admitted through one witness, the defendant will not be heard to complain that the same evidence, improperly admitted through a different witness, was prejudicial error."
HEARSAY CANNOT BE ADMITTED BY REFERENCE TO OTHER EVIDENCE AT TRIAL
NON-TESTIFYING ACCOMPLICE CONFESSIONS DO NOT QUALIFY AS A HEARSAY EXCEPTION
"To be admissible under the Confrontation Clause," we held, "hearsay evidence used to convict a defendant must possess indicia of reliability by virtue of its inherent trustworthiness, not by reference to other evidence at trial.
The decisive fact, which we make explicit today, is that accomplices' confessions that inculpate a criminal defendant are not within a firmly rooted exception to the hearsay rule as that concept has been defined in our Confrontation Clause jurisprudence.
LILLY CITES DOUGLAS, LEE, AND BRUTON:
DOUGLAS V. ALABAMA (1965)
BRUTON V. UNITED STATES (1968)
LEE V. ILLINOIS (1986)
That other evidence at trial corroborated portions of (Mark's) statements is irrelevant. We have squarely rejected the notion that "evidence corroborating the truth of a hearsay statement may properly support a finding that the statement bears 'particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.'"
Over 30 years ago, we applied this principle to the Sixth Amendment. We held in Douglas v. Alabama, (1965), that the admission of a nontestifying accomplice's confession, which shifted responsibility and implicated the defendant as the triggerman, "plainly denied [the defendant] the right of cross-examination secured by the Confrontation Clause."
In Lee, we reaffirmed Douglas and explained that its holding "was premised on the basic understanding that when one person accuses another of a crime under circumstances in which the declarant stands to gain by inculpating another, the accusation is presumptively suspect and must be subjected to the scrutiny of cross-examination.". Quoting Bruton, . . . Indeed, even the dissenting Justices in Lee agreed that "accomplice confessions ordinarily are untrustworthy precisely because they are not unambiguously adverse to the penal interest of the declarant," but instead are likely to be attempts to minimize the declarant's culpability.”
Consistent with this scholarship and the assumption that underlies the analysis in our Bruton line of cases, we have over the years "spoken with one voice in declaring presumptively unreliable accomplices' confessions that incriminate defendants."
CONFRONTATION REQUIREMENT APPLIES TO TESTIMONIAL STATEMENTS
Justice Scalia's opinion made any "testimonial" out-of-court statements inadmissible if the accused did not have the opportunity to cross-examine that accuser. "Testimonial" applies to any statements that an objectively reasonable person in the declarant's situation would have deemed likely to be used in court.
Where testimonial evidence is at issue, however, the Sixth Amendment demands what the common law required: unavailability and a prior opportunity for cross-examination . . .
Our cases have thus remained faithful to the Framers' understanding: Testimonial statements of witnesses absent from trial have been admitted only where the declarant is unavailable, and only where the defendant has had a prior opportunity to cross-examine . . .
Admitting statements deemed reliable by a judge is fundamentally at odds with the right of confrontation,,,,,,,,,,
Dispensing with confrontation because testimony is obviously reliable is akin to dispensing with jury trial because a defendant is obviously guilty. This is not what the Sixth Amendment prescribes……..
CRAWFORD OVERRULES ROBERTS IN REGARD TO TESTIMONIAL STATEMENTS
Where testimonial statements are at issue, the only indicium of reliability sufficient to satisfy constitutional demands is the one the Constitution actually prescribes: confrontation.
The judgment of the Washington Supreme Court is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
NOTES THAT ROBERTS IS OVERRULED AND CROSS-EXAMINATION REQUIREMENT IS RESTORED
"Roberts condition[ed] the admissibility of all hearsay evidence on whether it falls under a 'firmly rooted hearsay exception' or bears 'particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.' We overruled Roberts in Crawford by restoring the unavailability and cross-examination requirements...
4Syllabus Opinion (Scalia)
DOUGLAS V. ALABAMA (1965)
Hence, effective confrontation of (Loyd) was possible only if (Loyd) affirmed the statement as his. However, (Loyd) did not do so, but relied on his privilege to refuse to answer. ……………..This case cannot be characterized as one where the prejudice in the denial of the right of cross-examination constituted a mere minor lapse. The alleged statements clearly bore on a fundamental part of the State's case against petitioner. The circumstances are therefore such that "inferences from a witness' refusal to answer added critical weight to the prosecution's case in a form not subject to cross-examination, and thus unfairly prejudiced the defendant.
March 17, 2004, Wisconsin Law Journal
Vol. 40:1, Winter 2005, Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review
Robert Calhoun, Professor of Law, Golden Gate Law School
Andrew C. Fine
The University of Michigan Law Library
James J. Duane
Richard D. Friedman, University of Michigan Law School
Cato Supreme Court Review
Jessica Smith, Institute of Government, June 2004
Published August 15, 2006. Report broken links or other problems.
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