Case Law - Criminal - US Supreme Court (A.5d.1b)

Core Foundation Cases

Giles v. California , 128 S. Ct. 2678 (2008) 554 U.S. 353
Defendant convicted of murder where prosecution introduced statements made by murder victim to police officer responding to domestic violence call. The Court held the theory of forfeiture by wrongdoing is not an exception to the Six Amendment’s confrontation requirement where there was no evidence that the defendant intended to prevent the victim from testifying.

(Sixth Amendment, confrontation, testimonial, forfeiture by wrongdoing)

Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813 (2006) 126 S.Ct. 2266
Court held in Davis that admission of recording of victim’s 911 call did not violated defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation because the conversation between domestic violence victim and 911 operator was not testimonial. Court held in Hammond that domestic violence victim’s statement to police at the scene of the reported domestic violence was testimonial and admission of victim’s statement to police absent victim’s presence at trial at trial violated defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation.

(Sixth Amendment, confrontation, testimonial)

Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1354
Court held admission of defendant’s wife to police that defendant’s stabbing was not in self-defense violated defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation where wife did not testify at trail due to the state’s marital privilege. The Court overruled Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980) and set forth a method to analyze confrontation clause issues. Decide if a statement is testimonial. If a statement is not testimonial, no further confrontation clause analysis is necessary. If a statement is testimonial, the statement may be admitted only when: the witness testifies; or when the witness is not available to testify and the witness has been subject to cross-examination at a prior time or an exception to the confrontation clause applies (for example, the dying declaration exception).

(Sixth Amendment, confrontation, testimonial)

Connecticut Dept. of Pub. Safety v. Doe, 538 U.S. 1 (2003) 123 S.Ct. 1160

Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003) 123 S.Ct. 1140
Court rejected respondents’ claim that the requirement that the Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act which required them to register as sex offenders violated the ex post facto clause of the Constitution where they were convicted of the predicate sex offenses before the act was passed. The Court relied on its decision in Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346 (1997) and found that the legislature intended to create a civil, non-punitive regime, not subject to the ex post facto prohibition.

(sex offender registry, ex post facto)

Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. V. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999) 119 S. Ct. 1167
Court held that the Daubert (see summary of Daubert below) factors may apply to the testimony of engineers and other experts who are not scientists. The Court’s opinion instructed that the Daubert factors do not constitute a definitive checklist for consideration of admission of an expert’s testimony and further instructed that the Daubert analysis of Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence is a flexible one.

(expert witness, expert witness testimony, Daubert factors)

Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346 (1997) 117 S.Ct. 2072
Supreme Court upheld Kansas’ sexually violent predator statute against challenge that the statute violated the ex post facto and double jeopardy prohibitions of the Constitution.

(sexually violent predator, ex post facto, double jeopardy)

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) 113 S.Ct. 2786
Court held the Federal Rules of Evidence and not Frye provided the standard for admission of expert scientific testimony in federal court. The Court explained that a trial court faced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony under Rule 702 FRE must make a preliminary assessment of whether the testimony’s underlying reasoning or methodology is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue. The Court set forth a number of factors for the trial court to consider: whether the theory or technique has been tested; whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication; the known or potential error rate for a particular technique; and the existence and maintenance of controlling the technique’s operation. Those factors have subsequently been referred to as the “Daubert factors”.

(expert witness, expert witness testimony, Daubert factors, scientific evidence)

Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62 (1991) 112 S.Ct. 475
In this federal habeas corpus appeal, the defendant argued that evidence of battered child syndrome was not relevant and therefore admission of such evidence violated the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held that such evidence was relevant and therefore the court did not address the constitutional issue. In explaining why battered child syndrome evidence is relevant, the Court stated: “[E]vidence demonstrating battered child syndrome helps to prove that the child died at the hands of another and not by falling off a couch, for example; it also tends to establish that the ‘other,’ whoever it may be, inflicted the injuries intentionally. When offered to show that certain injuries are a product of child abuse, rather than accident, evidence of prior injuries is relevant even though it does not purport to prove the identity of the person who might have inflicted those injuries.” The Court found that, since the prosecution was required to prove an intentional act, evidence of battered child syndrome was relevant to prove intent even though the state did not prove the identity of the person who inflicted the prior injuries. The Court also rejected the argument that accident must be alleged by the defense before battered child syndrome evidence is admissible. Because the prosecution is required to prove intent as an element of its case in chief, the Court held such evidence was relevant to help prove an intentional, rather than accidental, act occurred.

(battered child syndrome)

Idaho v. Wright, 497 U.S. 805 (1990) 110 S.Ct. 3139
Court held that admission of child’s hearsay statements (statements made to child’s pediatrician) violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation.

(Sixth Amendment, confrontation, hearsay)

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