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Name: Whorton v. Bockting
Case #: 05-595
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 02/28/2007
Subsequent History: 127 S.Ct. 1173; 167 L.Ed.2d 1

The decision in Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36, governing the admission of hearsay testimonial statements made by an unavailable declarant, is not retroactive to cases already final on direct review. In this case, appellant was convicted of child molest in Nevada. At trial the prosecution introduced the hearsay statements of the child victim through the mother and investigating police officer as the court found the child unavailable, being too distressed to testify. In 1993, the Nevada Supreme Court, relying on Ohio v. Roberts (1980) 448 U.S. 56, found the statements constitutional. The 2002 writ filed in the United States District court was denied. In the meantime, the Crawford decision was issued and the U.S. Court of Appeal, 9th Circuit reversed the District Court, holding that Crawford applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. The Supreme Court disagreed and utilizing the framework provided by Teague v. Lane (1989) 489 U.S. 288 found that Crawford was a new rule that did not meet the requirements for retroactivity – namely, it is neither a substantive rule nor a “watershed” rule that (1) is necessary to prevent an impermissibly large risk of an inaccurate conviction and (2) alters the understanding of the bedrock procedural element essential to the fairness of a proceeding. [The rule announced in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) 372 U.S. 335, guaranteeing a right to counsel to an indigent defendant charged with a felony, appears to be the only case meeting the requirement of an impermissibly large risk of an inaccurate conviction.]