Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Cameras in the Supreme Court?

The Senate had hearings today on this issue, and SCOTUS Blog has the scoop here. You know my views -- it makes no sense to me that the court proceedings are closed. Sunshine and all that...

Speaking of the Supreme Court, it heard argument today on another confrontation clause case. Here's Tom Goldstein's summary of what the case is all about:

Tomorrow, the Justices will hear argument in Williams v. Illinois, the next in the line of cases involving the Court’s more defendant-friendly interpretation of the Confrontation Clause. The question is whether the Confrontation Clause is violated if an expert testifies about the results of testing conducted by a non-testifying third party, if the report itself is not introduced at trial.

Here, an expert testified about the results of a DNA test conducted by an analyst, but the DNA test was not admitted. The Supreme Court of Illinois held that there was no constitutional violation. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a conflict in the lower courts over the Confrontation Clause’s application in these circumstances.

One could say with a fair degree of confidence that the five Justices who started the revolution in the Court’s Confrontation Clause jurisprudence in Crawford v. Washington in 2004 and then adhered to their strong view in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts in 2009 would rule for Williams here. As a practical matter, it is hard to say that the underlying DNA report is not being used for its truth. But since then, two Justices in the majority – Justices Souter and Stevens – have been replaced by Justices Sotomayor and Justice Kagan. Although the latter two Justices joined the Bullcoming majority, they may have a lessened commitment to a robust application of the Confrontation Clause. Justice Sotomayor’s concurrence in Bullcoming in particular signals that these facts may approach or pass the end of the line to which five Justices are willing to extend the Confrontation Clause.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate to be the only guy willing to tell the king he is wearing no close but has anyone seen the herald article at http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/07/2534551/miami-woman-serving-life-sentence.html