Confrontation Clause

1528 WordsJul 14, 20187 Pages
In the United States criminal justice system, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. With this concept in mind, the accused are given many rights to a fair trial. One of those rights falls under the sixth amendment in the United States Constitution. The confrontation clause reads, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law defines the confrontation clause as, “A fundamental right of a defendant in a criminal action to come face-to-face with an adverse witness in the court’s presence so the defendant has a fair chance to object the testimony of the witness, and the opportunity to cross-examine him or her” (Lehman &…show more content…
The court treats sex abuse cases, where young children are victims differently. In 1990, the case Maryland v. Craig permitted young children to testify by the use of one-way, closed circuit televisions out of the courtroom, under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court concluded that children’s psychological well-being outweighed the accused entitlement to face-to-face confrontation (Parise, 1991, p. 1099). In the past few years several cases have enforced a more comprehensive meaning to the confrontation clause. Such cases are Crawford v. Washington, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, and Davis v. Washington. In 2004, the landmark case Crawford v. Washington, involved an assault where the defendant Michael Crawford, got into an altercation involving a knife with another male over his wife. During the arrest, the police taped both Michael and his wife statements. The prosecution used his wife’s damaging statement, as she was unwilling to testify against her husband, during his trial and Crawford was convicted (Friedman, p. 440). Subsequently, the case made it to the United States Supreme Court and they overturned the 1980 decision in Ohio v. Roberts. Justice Scalia wrote, “Out-of-court statements were admissible only when the witness was unavailable to testify and the defendant had been able to cross-examine the witness on a previous occasion” (Supreme Court: Right to Confront Witnesses Strengthened, 2004). Under the Crawford ruling
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