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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ind. Decisions - More on Indiana hearsay/confrontation clause case to be heard by U.S. Supreme Court

Charles Wilson of the AP has a story today, appearing in several Indiana papers and the LCJ, on the confrontation clause appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court discussed here yesterday. Some quotes:

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether an Indiana man's rights were violated when a judge allowed prosecutors to use statements made to police officers by his wife, even though she did not testify in court.

The appeal by a Peru man convicted of domestic battery will be heard in tandem with a Washington state case involving the use of a 911-call transcript, the high court said this week.

Both cases involve the constitutional right of a defendant to confront witnesses in court. The decision to hear the cases follows a Supreme Court ruling last year that said prosecutors could not use a woman's taped statement to police to undermine her husband at trial. * * *

"If this is allowed, it means that someone can testify against someone by talking to the cops, and not appear in court and not be subject to cross-examination," said Richard D. Friedman, a University of Michigan Law School professor who is representing Hershel Hammon.

The right to confront witnesses historically has not been as strong in practice as most people believe and has been trumped by state exceptions allowing use of second-hand testimony, Friedman said.

The Indiana high court ruled that Hammon's statements were admissible under certain legal exceptions because they were made voluntarily in excitement and not intended as testimony.

It drew a distinction between such statements and those elicited by police officers during an interrogation or in an affidavit, which are clearly for use in court.

However, Friedman argued that the state court erred based on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year in the case of Michael Crawford, which bolstered defendants' Sixth Amendment rights. [Crawford v. Washington]

In that case, the justices threw out Crawford's conviction in Washington because his attorneys had no opportunity to cross-examine his wife regarding a 911 tape that was played by prosecutors at his trial.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 3, 2005 08:09 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions