“Justices Signal Court Testimony’s Primacy” — Or Do They?
Is the Supreme Court about to ban the use of 911 calls in court when the caller doesn’t testify? Depends on which news organization you ask.
If you ask the L.A. Times, it’s virtually a done deal that such evidence can’t be used. This paper’s story is titled Justices Signal Court Testimony’s Primacy. The sub-head reads: “All but Ginsburg lean toward defendants having the right to ‘be confronted’ by accusers, even in cases of domestic violence and abuse.” And the first paragraph says:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court justices, with the exception of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, sounded Monday as if they were likely to bar prosecutors from using in court the words of alleged crime victims who speak to authorities but later refuse to testify.
That’s just one Justice favoring the prosecution position urged by several states and the Bush Administration.
But the Washington Post says that “at least some of the justices seemed concerned about how far to extend the new rule.” “Some” is more than “one.” Let’s read on:
The court’s newest member, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a former prosecutor, also seemed to lean in favor of the states. He asked lawyers for the defendants questions that implied they were asking for too broad a rule.
“If someone calls and says ‘I just saw a blue Toyota with Ohio plates do a hit-and-run,’ is that testimony?” he asked at one point.
“Yes,” replied Hammon’s lawyer, Richard D. Friedman.
Two Justices! Ha ha ha ha. [Said in the voice of Sesame Street’s the Count.] And the AP says:
Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to give prosecutors and police the benefit of the doubt in both cases.
Roberts was skeptical when Davis’ lawyer suggested that prosecutors, armed with powerful 911 tapes, might keep “bad” witnesses off the stand to win their cases.
And the chief justice said police officers have mixed motives in trying to protect victims and build criminal cases.
Three Justices! Ha ha ha ha.
Of course, three is not five. But reading these stories leaves you feeling completely in the dark as to where these Justices really stand.
We’ll have a better idea when the oral argument transcript comes online.