Crawford v. Washington
The Crawford versus Washington and the confrontation clause
The Crawford versus Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) was a decision of the supreme court of the United States of America. The decision revolutionized the court proceedings by reformulation of the standards that were used in deciding statements related to the admission of the hearsay during the criminal cases. This event was backed under the contagious confrontational clause of the famous sixth amendment. In that case, the court passed that there is a need for the cross-examination in the event that prior testimonial statements of the witness that are unavailable are admitted. Therefore, the confrontation clause ensures that the accused in any criminal prosecutions enjoys the rights of confronting any witness testifying against them. In fact, the clause offers the accused the right to have a face-to-face confrontation with the witnesses that provides testimonial evidence during the trial through cross-examination. However, the confrontation clause is only applicable to criminal prosecutions only without covering other proceedings including the civil cases (Fishman, 2014).
Influence of the SCOTUS’ holding in the Crawford versus Washington in the case
In the light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia in regards to the trial of the Briscoe versus Commonwealth and Cypress versus Commonwealth, SCOTUS’ holding in the Crawford versus Washington influenced the decision. The court found both Cypress and Briscoe quality of possessing cocaine with the intent of trafficking. The court utilized the report from the forensic lab to determine whether the substances in question were cocaine and their actual size regarding the case. Some sections were to the opinion that the Court violated the confrontation clause. This is because by accepting the certificate of analyst in both cases, the court denied the accused the right of confronting the analyst who is providing testimonial evidence against them. However, upon scrutinizing the situation, the court’s verdict borrowed much from the SCOTUS’ holding in the Crawford versus Washington (Fishman, 2014).
First, the accused failed to summon the analyst for the cross-examination during the trial. As a result, it can be argued that the court believed that the accused was comfortable with the overall trial. Under the new code S 19.2-187.1, the defendant is granted the rights of calling the witness to the witness stand for cross-examination. In this case, the accused had the right to summon the forensic analyst to the witness stand for cross-examination. Therefore, it was not the responsibility of the Commonwealth to call the forensic analyst to the witness stand but the accused. As evident, the court did not violate the confrontation clause in passing their verdict in the case of the Cypress and Briscoe against the commonwealth (Fenner, 2013).
Second, the court used the new code that granted the defendant the freedom of choosing whether to call the forensic analyst to the witness stand or not. Therefore, the defendant failure of presenting the forensic witness to the witness stand for cross-examination was within the law. This is because the confrontation clause also covers the defendant’s rights. Within the same clause, the impermissibility protects the defendant from presenting the witnesses to the stand during the prosecution proceedings against their will.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors proceeding in light of the cases
In light of these cases, both the defense attorney and the prosecutors should proceed as follows. To start with, the defendant should take upon himself to summon the forensic analyst as an adverse witness. This is because the new code burdens the defendant with the responsibility of calling the adverse witnesses to the witness stands rather that the prosecutor. Since the court ruling, in this case, was because of the fact that no violation of the confrontation clause was done since the forensic analyst was not presented, the defendant should take it upon himself or herself to submit the analyst to the witness stand. Since the defendants were not issued with the pretrial notice, they should approach either the court clerk or the commonwealth attorney for the same notice. Upon receiving the notice, they were supposed to study it with the intention of either accepting its usage during the court proceedings in the absence of the forensic analyst or not. Moreover, the defendants can waive their confrontation clauses by utilizing the statutory procedure as a way of protecting their rights about the confrontation clause (Fenner, 2013).
On the other side, the prosecutor should honor the notice- and- demand statute and grant the defendant with the notice of the pretrial as a way of officially declaring his intention of using the report of the forensic analyst. This move is imperative since it allows the defendant to decide whether to agree with the usage of the report in the absence of the forensic analyst or to object. Besides, the prosecutor on this case should conduct a federal constitutional harmless error analysis to be able to determine if the evidence under dispute contributed significantly towards the conviction of the case. This procedure involves taking into consideration several factors such as the nature of the evidence accumulation and the level of importance of the evidence in regards to the prosecutor’s case. The procedure also depends on the availability of any contradictions regarding the evidence in contention together with the strength of the case in general. Conducting this analysis is important because it enables the prosecutor to reevaluate the strength of his case together with the influence of the evidence in contention regarding the case (Fenner, 2013).
Fenner, G. (2013). Today’s Confrontation Clause (After Crawford and Melendez-Diaz). SSRN
Electronic Journal SSRN Journal, 1(2), 12-34.
Fishman, C. (2014). Crawford v Washington: The Supreme Court opts for a new (old?)
approach to the Confrontation Clause. The International Journal of Evidence & Proof, 2(2), 240-247.