Essay, Law: Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990) and Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36.

QUESTION

For this paper, you are to read the cases of Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990) and Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36. Both of these cases roughly deal with the same issue. The purpose of this assignment is for you to compare and contrast the two decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.

Your paper should discuss the judicial history of both cases, the facts of both cases, the issues presented to the courts, and the majority decision of the Supreme Court. You will find that the outcomes of the cases are different so it is important for you to discuss and compare and contrast the different reasoning used by the justices that wrote the majority decision in each case. In the Maryland case, Justice Scalia wrote a spirited dissent so you need to discuss his dissent and compare it to the majority decision. Since Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the Crawford case you might want to compare what he said in his dissent in Maryland with his majority decision in Crawford. Lastly, tell me whether you think the decision in the Maryland case has been over ruled by the Crawford case and be sure you give reasons for your opinion.

ANSWER

Introduction

Both the Maryland v. Craig and Crawford v. Washington cases concerned the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution. In the first case, whose decision was made on June 27, 1990, a majority of Supreme Court judges ruled that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him was not violated (American Psychological Association, 2010).

Additionally, in 2004, the Supreme Court ruled a similar case concerning the confrontation clause, and the majority of judges ruled that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront a witness against him was violated (Bloomberg Law, 2016). Evidently there were different reasoning used by the Supreme Court judges regarding this clause, and this paper intends to conduct a detailed analysis of this ambiguity. 

Maryland Vs Craig

The Supreme Court, based on the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, handled this case. Conventionally, the Sixth Amendment allows criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them. However, the defendant was not able to confront the rape victim. Alternatively, the Court allowed the child sex victim to testify via one-way closed-circuit television (American Psychological Association, 2010).

The child’s lawyer explained that the child could not avail herself in court because of emotional trauma. For that matter, the court allowed the child to be in a separate room with the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the judge. The jury and the defendant were in a different room and could manage to see the victim testify through television screen (American Psychological Association, 2010).

The judge ruled for the victim, and the defendant was convicted. However, the defendant appealed the case and was successful. The Maryland Court of Appeal ruled that the accused’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated since the victim testified through a transmitted testimony. The Sixth Amendment allows the defendant to confront his/her witness on face-to-face basis but not through transmitted evidence (American Psychological Association, 2010).

After the Maryland Court of Appeals decision, the victim took the case the United States Supreme Court. Here, the highest court in land reinstated the conviction earlier ruled by the high court. The Supreme Court argued that the defendant’s attorney represented his client in cross-examining the victim, and the defendant, through his lawyer had sufficient opportunity to question the victim (American Psychological Association, 2010). Besides, the Supreme Court noted that Maryland’s Courts of Appeal failed to justify its decision that transmitted evidence through one-way closed-circuit video violated the defendant’s right to confront the victim.

The majority of Supreme Court judges allowed children in sexual abuse to avoid confrontation with defendants. The reasoning of the majority was that criminal defendants have no guarantee of the right to face-to-face confrontation with witnesses against them. They also noted that confrontation may encompass physical presence, oath, observation by tier of fact, and cross-examination. In this case, the defendant’s lawyer can represent his client in the confrontation since he is under oath (American Psychological Association, 2010).

Alternatively, the judges who dissented argued that the Supreme Court has no authority to question the value of confrontation. These judges with the dissent opinion strongly disagreed with the judges with the view on the basis that ‘face to face confrontations result to emotional distress amongst child witnesses.’ Justice Scalia, who read the dissent opinion, noted that the sixth amendment required confrontation, and Craig’s rights were violated (American Psychological Association, 2010).

 Crawford v. Washington

The United States Supreme Court determined this case on March 8th, 2004 (Bloomberg Law, 2016). The defendant, Mr. Crawford, confronted Lee. He claimed that Lee had assaulted his wife. This confrontation resulted in a scuffle, and Crawford stabbed Lee. In his defense argument, Mr. Crawford noted that he acted in self-defense since he believed Lee was going to kill him. Lee denied these claims and noted that he did not act in any way to threaten Crawford’s life (Bloomberg Law, 2016).

After the confrontation, the police interviewed Mr. Crawford. He told the police that he was not certain Lee was going to pick a weapon. Mrs. Crawford confirmed her husband’s opinion and noted that she did not see Lee picking up any weapon. This confirmation ultimately damaged Mr. Crawford’s claim that he acted in self-defense (Bloomberg Law, 2016). 

The police then arrested Mr. Crawford and charged him. His wife was prevented from testifying for him because of Washington’s spousal privilege clause. Additionally, the prosecution decided to deploy a tape recording as evidence against the defendant. This did not go well with Mr. Crawford, and strongly negated the idea of using this form of proof suggesting that out-of-court statement was hearsay (Bloomberg Law, 2016). However, the prosecution noted that the tape recording is accepted in court proceedings based on a residential exception to hearsay. The prosecution further allowed Mrs. Crawford to testify if she wanted (Bloomberg Law, 2016).

According to the Crawfords, waiving the spousal privilege is a violation of the Confrontation Clause of the 6th amendment. The trial judge did not consider the arguments made by the Crawfords and found Mr. Crawford guilty of assault (Bloomberg Law, 2016). Unsatisfied by the ruling, Mr. Crawford appealed. The Court of Appeal ruled for Mr. Crawford and argued that the defendant’s statements were improperly admitted. The prosecution appealed this ruling by the Court of Appeal in the Washington Supreme Court, and the majority of the judges reinstated the conviction (Bloomberg Law, 2016). 

Mr. Crawford finally sought the help of the US Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor and threw out the conviction. Judges who were of the opinion were the majority and noted that Mr. Crawford’s statements interlocked. These judges noted that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment was violated the moment the police used the wife’s recorded statement to charge the defendant. Additionally, the US Supreme Court noted that out of court statement is not admissible in a trial if not the accused is allowed to cross-examine the one who gave the statement. Meanwhile, the judges who concurred in the result noted that they were not in a position to expand Mr. Crawford’s right to exclude out of court statements (Bloomberg Law, 2016).

Conclusion

The two cases discussed in this paper involved the Sixth Amendment of the Confrontation Clause. For the case of Maryland vs. Craig, Justice Scalia, who read the dissent opinion and strongly believed the US Supreme Court has no authority to question the value of confrontation (American Psychological Association, 2010). Additionally, the judge firmly rejected the idea that face-to-face confrontation causes significant emotional distress amongst child witnesses. Regarding the Crawford v. Washington case, Justice Scalia was of the opinion that the defendant’s 6th Amendment was violated the moment the police used the wife’s recorded statement to charge the defendant (Bloomberg Law, 2016). He was also of the idea that out of court statement is not admissible in a trial if not the accused is allowed to cross-examine the one who gave the statement. Apparently, Justice Scalia considers the defendant’s right to challenge witnesses. The judge believes the clause allows defendants to challenge actual witnesses (Maryland Vs Craig), and defendants are entitled to bar testimony from witnesses who cannot testify in court(Crawford v. Washington). 

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Maryland v. Craig. American Psychological Association .

Bloomberg Law. (2016). Crawford v. Washington.

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