Tuesday, January 25, 2022
"Justices affirm Crawford’s application of Sixth Amendment confrontation clause to testimonial evidence"
Thursday’s decision in Hemphill v. New York affirmed the requirement for cross-examination of testimonial statements offered at trial and rejected a state law exception to the rule. A jury convicted Darrell Hemphill of second-degree murder after a trial court admitted un-cross-examined testimonial statements from a third-party’s plea allocution. New York courts agreed the admission did not violate Crawford v. Washington, which interpreted the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause to require cross-examination of testimonial statements offered at trial. But in an 8-1 opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court reversed the New York courts.
. . .
Sotomayor spurned “door opening” as an exception to the confrontation clause. New York failed to dispute the testimonial nature of Morris’ un-cross-examined statements and that “door-opening” could be found despite the guarantees of the confrontation clause. Instead, New York labeled “door-opening” a “procedural rule” that limited “only the manner of asserting the confrontation right, not its substantive scope.” The court disagreed and cited to several New York rules and court guides that presented door-opening as “a substantive principle of evidence that dictates what material is relevant and admissible in a case.”