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Court won't allow statements by killer's victim
Reuters ^ | June 25, 2008

Posted on 06/25/2008 12:42:43 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a murder victim's prior statements cannot be used against her killer because it would violate a defendant's constitutional right to confront witnesses who testify against him.

The high court's 6-3 ruling was a victory for Dwayne Giles, who had been convicted by a jury in Los Angeles for the 2002 shooting death of his former girlfriend, Brenda Avie. He was sentenced to at least 50 years in prison.

The court majority said the constitutional right to confront a witness applied even if the defendant was responsible for the witness being unavailable to testify at trial.

*****

The majority ruling, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, overturned a decision by a California court that upheld Giles' conviction. The Supreme Court said the victim's testimony should have been excluded.

Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy dissented.

(Excerpt) Read more at reuters.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: confrontation; judiciary; scalia; scotus; supremecircus

1 posted on 06/25/2008 12:42:44 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Pardon me, but wouldn’t the “Killer’s victim” be dead?


2 posted on 06/25/2008 12:45:17 PM PDT by TommyDale (I) (Never forget the Republicans who voted for illegal immigrant amnesty in 2007!)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

will Scalia be writing the magority for Heller now that he has written this opinion?


3 posted on 06/25/2008 12:47:10 PM PDT by lakeman
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To: TommyDale

Correct. But the killer could not confront the victim since he or she is dead.


4 posted on 06/25/2008 12:47:26 PM PDT by twigs
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To: TommyDale
Courts, of course, give precedence to live people and corporations.

Unfortunate the woman died at his hands, but more unfortunate is the fact that California didn't execute the puke in the first place. Then he wouldn't be wasting the valuable time of the taxpaying public.

5 posted on 06/25/2008 12:47:41 PM PDT by muawiyah (We need a "Gastank For America" to win back Congress)
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To: TommyDale
Courts, of course, give precedence to live people and corporations.

Unfortunate the woman died at his hands, but more unfortunate is the fact that California didn't execute the puke in the first place. Then he wouldn't be wasting the valuable time of the taxpaying public.

6 posted on 06/25/2008 12:47:52 PM PDT by muawiyah (We need a "Gastank For America" to win back Congress)
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To: TommyDale
Courts, of course, give precedence to live people and corporations.

Unfortunate the woman died at his hands, but more unfortunate is the fact that California didn't execute the puke in the first place. Then he wouldn't be wasting the valuable time of the taxpaying public.

7 posted on 06/25/2008 12:47:52 PM PDT by muawiyah (We need a "Gastank For America" to win back Congress)
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To: lakeman

majority


8 posted on 06/25/2008 12:48:06 PM PDT by lakeman
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To: Lurking Libertarian

He already “confronted” her.


9 posted on 06/25/2008 12:50:05 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: Lurking Libertarian

<<< The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a murder victim’s prior statements cannot be used against her killer because it would violate a defendant’s constitutional right to confront witnesses who testify against him. >>>

GREAT WORK MORONS. YOU JUST TOLD EVERY SCUMBAG THAT WAS THINKING OF KILLING THE WITNESSES AGAINST THEM TO GO AHEAD AND DO IT BECAUSE ITS A WIN WIN SITUATION FOR THEM.......


10 posted on 06/25/2008 12:51:23 PM PDT by SECURE AMERICA
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To: BenLurkin
He already “confronted” her.

That's what I was thinking. I understand the reasoning, but I don't believe that was the original intent.

11 posted on 06/25/2008 12:54:05 PM PDT by Always Right (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?)
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To: Always Right

Everyone on this thread is overthinking this....you know the truth...its BS, the SC ruling has protected terrorists, child rapists, now killers. We’re going down...


12 posted on 06/25/2008 12:56:22 PM PDT by Blue Turtle (I)
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To: Always Right

This will grant a new trial to the wife killer in Wisconsin whose wife had written a note predicting her murder. The Wisconsin Supremes permitted the testimony on appeal. Goodby appeal.


13 posted on 06/25/2008 12:56:44 PM PDT by Cyman
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Doesn’t this mean the defendant will be retried , but this time without the hearsay from the officer ?


14 posted on 06/25/2008 12:57:20 PM PDT by kbennkc (For those who have fought for it , freedom has a flavor the protected will never know)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

It looks like this decision was written by the conservative good guys.

I’m not sure what they were thinking. I’ve always thought that in a case like this the jury should hear the evidence and then be warned by the judge that it is hearsay.

But I can understand the decision, I guess. A LEO presented the hearsay evidence, and it could be a dangerous precedent if they are allowed to do that.


15 posted on 06/25/2008 1:01:35 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

Does this mean that a recorded 911 call from a victim, who is now dead, screaming that the attacker is so-and-so is now inadmissible in court?...............


16 posted on 06/25/2008 1:01:41 PM PDT by Red Badger (If we drill deep enough, we can reach the Saudi oil fields from THIS side..........)
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To: Red Badger
Does this mean that a recorded 911 call from a victim, who is now dead, screaming that the attacker is so-and-so is now inadmissible in court?...............

This was not a recorded phone call but the evidence of a police officer that spoke with the victim weeks before the murder.

17 posted on 06/25/2008 1:05:51 PM PDT by frogjerk (Barry Hussein is Neville Chamberlain)
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To: Red Badger
Does this mean that a recorded 911 call from a victim, who is now dead, screaming that the attacker is so-and-so is now inadmissible in court?...............

I don't think a recorded phone call would be considered hearsay evidence.

18 posted on 06/25/2008 1:07:10 PM PDT by frogjerk (Barry Hussein is Neville Chamberlain)
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To: Cyman
This will grant a new trial to the wife killer in Wisconsin whose wife had written a note predicting her murder. The Wisconsin Supremes permitted the testimony on appeal. Goodby appeal.

I don't think the written note will be considered hearsay evidence, so I don't think this decision will affect that case.

19 posted on 06/25/2008 1:08:57 PM PDT by frogjerk (Barry Hussein is Neville Chamberlain)
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To: Red Badger

That’s a good question.


20 posted on 06/25/2008 1:09:36 PM PDT by DoughtyOne ( I say no to the Hillary Clinton wing of the Republican party. Not now or ever, John McCain...)
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To: SECURE AMERICA
GREAT WORK MORONS. YOU JUST TOLD EVERY SCUMBAG THAT WAS THINKING OF KILLING THE WITNESSES AGAINST THEM TO GO AHEAD AND DO IT BECAUSE ITS A WIN WIN SITUATION FOR THEM.......

Calm down.

You're completely wrong and you need to think it through.

21 posted on 06/25/2008 1:10:16 PM PDT by wideawake (Why is it that those who call themselves Constitutionalists know the least about the Constitution?)
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To: Cicero
It looks like this decision was written by the conservative good guys.

Yup. Written by Scalia, joined by Roberts, Thomas and Alito, and joined in part by Souter and Ginsburg. Dissent by Breyer, Kennedy and Stevens.

I’m not sure what they were thinking.

Basically, they are saying that the defendant's constitutional right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him" means what it says.

22 posted on 06/25/2008 1:10:45 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: TommyDale
Pardon me, but wouldn’t the “Killer’s victim” be dead?

Headline doesn't mesh with the statement....

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a murder victim's prior statements

23 posted on 06/25/2008 1:11:12 PM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

it’s a technicality, an unfortunate one but ..


24 posted on 06/25/2008 1:11:41 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE toll-free tip hotline 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRget!!!)
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To: DoughtyOne; Red Badger

A recorded 911 call should be considered an exception to the hearsay rule because it is an “excited utterance.”


25 posted on 06/25/2008 1:12:31 PM PDT by wideawake (Why is it that those who call themselves Constitutionalists know the least about the Constitution?)
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To: frogjerk

But what’s the diffrence? Both the recorded voice and the cop’s interview notes are records of what the witness said when she was alive.


26 posted on 06/25/2008 1:12:59 PM PDT by swain_forkbeard (Rationality may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.)
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To: Blue Turtle; Always Right
From the article:

Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy dissented.

I know everyone else doesn't agree with this, but on a matter of principle, this was the right opinion for all the right reasons.

Specifically, from the article again:

because it would violate a defendant's constitutional right to confront witnesses who testify against him.

Did the perp deserve to die?

More than likely, yes!

Should his constitional rights be violated in the process?

No.

If you were brought to trial and accused of a crime (murder or otherwise), and were innocent, would you want the Prosecution to get away with actions like this?
27 posted on 06/25/2008 1:13:50 PM PDT by SoConPubbie (GOP: If you reward bad behavior all you get is more bad behavior.)
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To: swain_forkbeard; wideawake
But what’s the diffrence? Both the recorded voice and the cop’s interview notes are records of what the witness said when she was alive.

See post #25

28 posted on 06/25/2008 1:16:13 PM PDT by frogjerk (Barry Hussein is Neville Chamberlain)
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To: wideawake
A recorded 911 call should be considered an exception to the hearsay rule because it is an “excited utterance."

Okay.  I want to push this comment some.  Lets see what you think.

Two weeks prior to her death, a victim calls 911 to state that her boyfriend is trying to kill her.  The police arrive, sure enough, there are signs of physical abuse, and they yank him out of the house.

Is that 911 call admisable as evidence when she is killed two weeks later, and her boyfriend is the supsect?  My take is no.

29 posted on 06/25/2008 1:25:43 PM PDT by DoughtyOne ( I say no to the Hillary Clinton wing of the Republican party. Not now or ever, John McCain...)
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To: DoughtyOne
No, it is not admissable - unless he is being prosecuted not for her murder but for the beating that took place on the day of the 911 call.

Say, for example, he was being prosecuted solely for assaulting her and while the prosecution was preparing to go to trial she was hit by a city bus and killed in front of witnesses.

The prosecution would not have a complaining witness, but they would have her excited utterance on the 911 tape.

30 posted on 06/25/2008 1:40:46 PM PDT by wideawake (Why is it that those who call themselves Constitutionalists know the least about the Constitution?)
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To: wideawake

Thanks for the response. I think we’re in agreement.

I will say that the bus incident wasn’t what I was thinking of. I was thinking more along the lines of her being found dead in the same apartment where the police responded weeks earlier.


31 posted on 06/25/2008 1:47:41 PM PDT by DoughtyOne ( I say no to the Hillary Clinton wing of the Republican party. Not now or ever, John McCain...)
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To: DoughtyOne
Then no.
32 posted on 06/25/2008 1:55:10 PM PDT by wideawake (Why is it that those who call themselves Constitutionalists know the least about the Constitution?)
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To: Blue Turtle
Everyone on this thread is overthinking this....you know the truth...its BS, the SC ruling has protected terrorists, child rapists, now killers. We’re going down...

And tomorrow, when we lose our guns, we won't be able to fire back.

33 posted on 06/25/2008 2:18:37 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: BlazingArizona
Tomorrow could be hugh , I am series .
34 posted on 06/25/2008 2:21:32 PM PDT by kbennkc (For those who have fought for it , freedom has a flavor the protected will never know)
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To: wideawake

GREAT WORK MORONS. YOU JUST TOLD EVERY SCUMBAG THAT WAS THINKING OF KILLING THE WITNESSES AGAINST THEM TO GO AHEAD AND DO IT BECAUSE ITS A WIN WIN SITUATION FOR THEM.......
Calm down.

You’re completely wrong and you need to think it through.

AS A FORMER POLICE OFFICER AND CORRECTIONS OFFICER WHO HAS HAD TO DEAL WITH MUDERERS AND OTHER ASSORTED SCUMBAGS THROUGHOUT MY CAREER AND HAVE SEEN THEM THINK IT THROUGH, I STAND BY MY STATEMENT.


35 posted on 06/25/2008 2:23:57 PM PDT by SECURE AMERICA
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Did you testify much ?


36 posted on 06/25/2008 2:27:12 PM PDT by kbennkc (For those who have fought for it , freedom has a flavor the protected will never know)
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To: Red Badger; DoughtyOne; frogjerk
a recorded 911 call from a victim, who is now dead, screaming that the attacker is so-and-so is now inadmissible in court

It IS hearsay, but it is nevertheless admissible under any one of a number of exceptions. I don't believe today's ruling would change that.

37 posted on 06/25/2008 2:29:35 PM PDT by Publius Valerius
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To: DoughtyOne; wideawake
Is that 911 call admisable as evidence when she is killed two weeks later

Wide, I think this is a tougher call than your initial take. If I'm the state, I think my argument is that it's not hearsay, because I'm not admitting the tape as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted--that boyfriend was trying to kill her at that moment--but perhaps that boyfriend has a propensity towards violence or to show that girlfriend feared for her life from boyfriend.

I think there are 404 problems with either of the two above approaches, but I think there's room to be creative here.

38 posted on 06/25/2008 2:37:51 PM PDT by Publius Valerius
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To: wideawake
Couldn't the prior phone call be used as evidence of violent intent in the past and the basis for a ‘motive’? I plead ignorance about the legal technicalities here.
39 posted on 06/25/2008 3:13:37 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Publius Valerius

Thank you. That conclusion seems reasonable to me as well.


40 posted on 06/25/2008 4:00:39 PM PDT by DoughtyOne ( I say no to the Hillary Clinton wing of the Republican party. Not now or ever, John McCain...)
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To: Publius Valerius; wideawake

Here’s something to consider along these lines. We are assuming that the phone call two weeks ago was valid. I have seen women claim their significant other wanted to kill them, when what they actually wanted was him out of the house. They were angry. They wanted to manipulate the courts, regarding custody. It’s a real mess, and I’m certain you’ve seen it too.

She may have in fact had some abrasions that made it look like he was being unreasonably rough with her. The fact is though, she may have been clobbering him, and he may have merely held her wrists so as not to receive more punches.

The admission of a recording from two weeks ago presupposes her version of the story was the gospel truth, when it may not have been at all.

For that reason, I do feel an obligation to offer up a devil’s advocate defense of the ‘supposed’ person who wanted her dead two weeks ago. The fact is, that claim may have been the furthest thing from the truth. And admitting this evidence could very easily influence a jury to jump to false conclusions.

You can put together a number of not so solid bits of evidence, that will look pretty impressive by the time they are all presented, this being one of them. They may in fact represent a complete railroading of the suspect too.


41 posted on 06/25/2008 4:11:18 PM PDT by DoughtyOne ( I say no to the Hillary Clinton wing of the Republican party. Not now or ever, John McCain...)
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Look at it this way, you are married and find out from a person in town that your wife is having an affair. You go out to a bar. You come home and her lover has murdered her in your home and you are arrested and charged. a letter is found in her desk saying anything happens to her she knows you did it for the life insurance.

is that admissible evidence?


42 posted on 06/25/2008 4:31:49 PM PDT by omega4179 ("you can't drill your way out of this" VERO POSSUMUS!)
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To: SECURE AMERICA
AS A FORMER POLICE OFFICER AND CORRECTIONS OFFICER WHO HAS HAD TO DEAL WITH MUDERERS AND OTHER ASSORTED SCUMBAGS THROUGHOUT MY CAREER AND HAVE SEEN THEM THINK IT THROUGH, I STAND BY MY STATEMENT.

Your statement is directly contrary to the Constitutional rights the Founders gave us.

There are plenty of governments worldwide which allow people to be convicted on the basis of hearsay - perhaps your blood pressure would improve if you lived in one of them instead. The cost of living is likely cheaper there as well - your pension would go further.

43 posted on 06/25/2008 4:55:16 PM PDT by wideawake (Why is it that those who call themselves Constitutionalists know the least about the Constitution?)
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To: DoughtyOne
I think your comment cuts to the very heart of why we have the hearsay rule. Notably, today's decision is really just a follow up, in my mind, on the Court's decision a couple of terms ago that really cut the heart out of a lot of hearsay exceptions, at least in criminal trials. I'm not recalling the name of the decision right off hand, (starts with a C?) but it was a 2004 opinion also written by Justice Scalia. In that opinion, Scalia held that "testimonial" hearsay could only be admitted under a "firmly-rooted" hearsay exception, which would presumably be one that existed at common law at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. Like today's decision, that opinion was based on the confrontation clause.

By the way, thinking more about yesterday's question, I think part of the question depends on whether the 911 call is considered "testimonial" evidence. Otherwise, I think it might get in regardless of whether it is hearsay or not. Seems like it could be either an excited utterance or a present sense impression.

44 posted on 06/26/2008 4:39:37 AM PDT by Publius Valerius
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To: Publius Valerius

Thanks for your thoughts on my comments and the issue. They were interesting.


45 posted on 06/26/2008 8:43:32 AM PDT by DoughtyOne ( I say no to the Hillary Clinton wing of the Republican party. Not now or ever, John McCain...)
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