NACDL - Crawford v. Washington

Crawford v. Washington

U.S. Supreme Court Amicus curiae brief of NACDL, ACLU and ACLU of Washington. 

Brief filed: 07/24/2003

Documents

Crawford v. Washington

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 541 U.S. 36

Prior Decision

Crawford overruled Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980), which until 2004 allowed introduction of hearsay statements with "particularized guarantees of trustworthiness."

Argument

The Court (Scalia, J.) ruled 7-2 that the Sixth Amendment "commands, not that evidence be reliable, but that reliability be assessed in a particular manner: by testing in the crucible of cross-examination." 124 S.Ct. at 1370. The Court emphasized that Confrontation Clause protection only applies to "testimonial" out-of-court statements, such as statements against penal interest (the statement at issue in this case). Encouragingly, the Court acknowledged its ruling creates some tension with other hearsay exceptions, such as spontaneous ("excited") utterances; the Court specifically refused to decide whether the Sixth Amendment incorporates an "historical" exception for dying declarations.

Author(s)

Jeffrey T. Green, et al.