Monday, February 28, 2011
Today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Michigan v. Bryant, its latest Confrontation Clause decision in the wake of Crawford v. Washington. Here is the start of the syllabus for the opinion:
Michigan police dispatched to a gas station parking lot found Anthony Covington mortally wounded. Covington told them that he had been shot by respondent Bryant outside Bryant’s house and had then driven himself to the lot. At trial, which occurred before Crawford v. Washington, 541 U. S. 36, and Davis v. Washington, 547 U. S. 813, were decided, the officers testified about what Covington said. Bryant was found guilty of, inter alia, second-degree murder. Ultimately, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed his conviction, holding that the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, as explained in Crawford and Davis, rendered Covington’s statements inadmissible testimonial hearsay.
Held: Covington’s identification and description of the shooter and the location of the shooting were not testimonial statements because theyhad a “primary purpose . . . to enable police assistance to meet an ongoing emergency.” Davis, 547 U. S., at 822. Therefore, their admission at Bryant's trial did not violate the Confrontation Clause.
I will have more analysis later in the day. Hat tip to my colleague Tim O'Neill for the link