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Name: Crawford v. Washington
Case #: 10-Feb
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 03/08/2004
Subsequent History: cross cites: 124 S. Ct. 1354; 158 L. Ed. 2d 177

The introduction of a witness statement given under police interrogation violated the defendant’s confrontation rights under the Sixth Amendment. The defendant was tried for assault and attempted murder, and after his wife asserted her spousal privilege and refused to testify at his trial, the state introduced the recorded statement that she had given to police during interrogation. In an opinion by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court held that the use of the wife’s statement violated the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses, holding that where testimonial statements are at issue, confrontation is the only indicium of reliability sufficient to satisfy the constitution. The court noted that under Ohio v. Roberts (1980) 448 U.S. 56, the statement of an unavailable witness may be admitted so long as it bears sufficient indicia of reliability, i.e., when it falls within a firmly rooted hearsay exception or bears particularized guarantees of trustworthiness. However, the court criticized the predictability and consistency of the Roberts test, looking instead to the original purpose of the Confrontation Clause, which was to enforce the common law right of confrontation as it existed at the time the amendment was adopted. The primary object of the Confrontation Clause is to bar testimonial hearsay, and interrogations by law enforcement officers fall squarely within that class.