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Come Back To The Boat, Justice Breyer!, Richard D. Friedman Nov 2014

Come Back To The Boat, Justice Breyer!, Richard D. Friedman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

I want to get Justice Breyer back on the right side of Confrontation Clause issues. In 1999, in Lilly v. Virginia, he wrote a farsighted concurrence, making him one of the first members of the Supreme Court to recognize the inadequacy of the then-prevailing doctrine of the Confrontation Clause. That doctrine, first announced in Ohio v. Roberts, was dependent on hearsay law and made judicial assessments of reliability determinative. In Crawford v. Washington, the Court was presented with an alternative approach, making the key inquiry whether the statement in question was testimonial in nature. During the oral argument, Justice Breyer ...


The Frame Of Reference And Other Problems, Richard D. Friedman, Jeffrey L. Fisher Nov 2014

The Frame Of Reference And Other Problems, Richard D. Friedman, Jeffrey L. Fisher

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

George argues that, centuries ago, jurists did not distinguish between testimonial and nontestimonial hearsay, and so the distinction cannot be a historically well-grounded basis for modern confrontation doctrine. The argument proceeds from an inaccurate frame of reference. When the confrontation right developed, principally in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and English defendants—Raleigh among them—demanded that adverse witnesses be brought face to face with them, they were making a procedural assertion as to how witnesses must give their testimony. (Giving testimony is what witnesses in litigation do.) Rarely did they phrase this claim in terms of hearsay, for the ...


The Crawford Debacle, George Fisher Jan 2014

The Crawford Debacle, George Fisher

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

First a toast—to my colleague Jeff Fisher and his Crawford compatriot, Richard Friedman, on the tenth anniversary of their triumph: What they achieved in Crawford is every lawyer’s dream. By dint of sheer vision and lawyerly craft, they toppled what many saw as a flawed confrontation-law regime and put in its place one that promised greater justice. For that, much applause is due. Still there’s no denying their doctrine’s a muddle, if not as conceived, then as realized. Consider the count: Four justices almost agree on Crawford’s contours but patch over the issues that divide ...


Confrontation And The Re-Privatization Of Domestic Violence, Deborah Tuerkheimer Jan 2014

Confrontation And The Re-Privatization Of Domestic Violence, Deborah Tuerkheimer

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

When the Supreme Court transformed the right of confrontation in Crawford v. Washington, the prosecution of domestic violence predictably suffered as a result. But commentators at the time did not anticipate how the Court’s subsequent Confrontation Clause cases would utterly misconceive the nature of domestic violence, producing a flawed understanding of what constitutes a “testimonial” statement. Although the Court’s definition was especially problematic in the domestic violence context, its overly rigid approach finally became intolerable in Michigan v. Bryant, a 2011 case that did not involve domestic violence. In Bryant, the Court resurrected a public–private divide that ...


Crawford V. Washington: The Next Ten Years, Jeffrey L. Fisher Jan 2014

Crawford V. Washington: The Next Ten Years, Jeffrey L. Fisher

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Imagine a world . . . in which the Supreme Court got it right the first time. That is, imagine that when the Supreme Court first incorporated the Confrontation Clause against the states, the Court did so by way of the testimonial approach. It’s not that hard to envision. In Douglas v. Alabama—issued in 1965, on the same day the Court ruled that the Confrontation Clause applies to the states—the Court held that a nontestifying witness’s custodial confession could not be introduced against the defendant because, while “not technically testimony,” the confession was “the equivalent in the jury’s ...


Transforming Juvenile Justice: Making Doctrine Out Of Dicta In Graham V. Florida, Jason Zolle Sep 2013

Transforming Juvenile Justice: Making Doctrine Out Of Dicta In Graham V. Florida, Jason Zolle

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In the late 1980s and 1990s, many state legislatures radically altered the way that their laws treated children accused of crimes. Responding to what was perceived of as an epidemic of juvenile violence, academics and policymakers began to think of child criminals as a "new breed" of incorrigible "superpredators." States responded by making it easier for prosecutors to try and sentence juveniles as adults, even making it mandatory in some circumstances. Yet in the past decade, the Supreme Court handed down four opinions that limit the states' ability to treat children as adults in the justice system. Roper v. Simmons ...


Keeping Up With The Jonses: Making Sure Your History Is Just As Wrong As Everyone Else's, Brian Sawers Feb 2013

Keeping Up With The Jonses: Making Sure Your History Is Just As Wrong As Everyone Else's, Brian Sawers

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Before Katz v. United States, a search under the Fourth Amendment required a trespass. If there was no trespass on one’s property, then there was no search. In Katz, a 1967 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court abandoned that approach, instead finding a search without a trespass based on the government’s invasion of a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” In Oliver v. United States, the Court found that trespass was not sufficient to create a search. It found no reasonable expectation of privacy in open fields, and thus no search, even though the defendant had erected “No Trespassing” signs ...


J.D.B. V. North Carolina And The Reasonable Person, Christopher Jackson Sep 2011

J.D.B. V. North Carolina And The Reasonable Person, Christopher Jackson

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

This Term, the Supreme Court was presented with a prime opportunity to provide some much-needed clarification on a "backdrop" issue of law-one of many topics that arises in a variety of legal contexts, but is rarely analyzed on its own terms. In J.D.B. v. North Carolina, the Court considered whether age was a relevant factor in determining if a suspect is "in custody" for Miranda purposes, and thus must have her rights read to her before being questioned by the police. Miranda, like dozens of other areas of law, employs a reasonable person test on the custodial question ...


How United States V. Jones Can Restore Our Faith In The Fourth Amendment, Erica Goldberg Mar 2011

How United States V. Jones Can Restore Our Faith In The Fourth Amendment, Erica Goldberg

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

United States v. Jones, issued in January of this year, is a landmark case that has the potential to restore a property-based interpretation of the Fourth Amendment to prominence. In 1967, the Supreme Court abandoned its previous Fourth Amendment framework, which had viewed the prohibition on unreasonable searches in light of property and trespass laws, and replaced it with a rule protecting the public’s reasonable expectations of privacy. Although the Court may have intended this reasonable expectations test to provide more protection than a test rooted in property law, the new test in fact made the Justices’ subjective views ...


When Will Race No Longer Matter In Jury Selection?, Bidish Sarma Jan 2011

When Will Race No Longer Matter In Jury Selection?, Bidish Sarma

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

We are coming upon the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's opinion in Batson v. Kentucky, which made clear that our Constitution does not permit prosecutors to remove prospective jurors from the jury pool because of their race. The legal question in Batson-when, if ever, can governmental race discrimination in jury selection be tolerated?-was easy. The lingering factual question, however-when will prosecutors cease to discriminate on the basis of race?-has proven far more difficult to answer. The evidence that district attorneys still exclude minorities because of their race is so compelling that it is tempting to assume ...


Response To "Snyder V. Louisiana: Continuing The Historical Trend Towards Increased Scrutiny Of Peremptory Challenges", Bidish J. Sarma Oct 2010

Response To "Snyder V. Louisiana: Continuing The Historical Trend Towards Increased Scrutiny Of Peremptory Challenges", Bidish J. Sarma

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

John P. Bringewatt's recent note makes several important observations about the Supreme Court's opinion in Snyder v. Louisiana. Although he provides reasonable support for the claim that Snyder represents a sea change in Batson jurisprudence, the US Supreme Court's fresh opinion in Thaler v. Haynes (rendered on February 22, 2010) reads the Snyder majority opinion narrowly and suggests the possibility that Snyder is not as potent as it should be. The Haynes per curiam's guarded reading of Snyder signals the need for courts to continue to conduct the bird's-eye cumulative analysis that the Court performed ...


"False But Highly Persuasive": How Wrong Were The Probability Estimates In Mcdaniel V. Brown?, David H. Kaye Jan 2009

"False But Highly Persuasive": How Wrong Were The Probability Estimates In Mcdaniel V. Brown?, David H. Kaye

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In McDaniel v. Brown, the Supreme Court will review the use of DNA evidence in a 1994 trial for sexual assault and attempted murder. The Court granted certiorari to consider two procedural issues—the standard of federal postconviction review of a state jury verdict for sufficiency of the evidence, and the district court's decision to allow the prisoner to supplement the record of trials, appeals, and state postconviction proceedings with a geneticist's letter twelve years after the trial. The letter from Laurence Mueller, a professor at the University of California at Irvine, identified two obvious mistakes in the ...


Refining Crawford: The Confrontation Claus After Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana, Andrew C. Fine Jan 2006

Refining Crawford: The Confrontation Claus After Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana, Andrew C. Fine

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Clarification of the Supreme Court’s newly minted interpretation of the Confrontation Clause was desperately needed, and Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana promised to provide it. Two terms earlier, in Crawford v. Washington, the Supreme Court had worked a revolutionary transformation of Confrontation Clause analysis by overruling Ohio v. Roberts and severing the link between hearsay jurisprudence and the Clause. Crawford was hailed by the criminal defense bar, since it seemed to presage a sharp reduction in the frequency of so-called “victimless” trials by holding that “testimonial” hearsay, no matter how reliable, was constitutionally inadmissible in the absence ...


Stevens's Ratchet: When The Court Should Decide Not To Decide, Joel A. Flaxman Jan 2006

Stevens's Ratchet: When The Court Should Decide Not To Decide, Joel A. Flaxman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Hidden underneath the racy death penalty issues in Kansas v. Marsh lurks a seemingly dull procedural issue addressed only in separate opinions by Justices Stevens and Scalia: whether the Court should have heard the case in the first place. As he did in three cases from the Court’s 2005 term, Justice Stevens argued in Marsh that the Court has no legitimate interest in reviewing state court decisions that overprotect federal constitutional rights. Instead, the Supreme Court should exercise its certiorari power to tip the scales against states and in favor of individuals. Granting certiorari in Marsh, Stevens argued, was ...


Davis And Hammon: A Step Forward, Or A Step Back?, Tom Lininger Jan 2006

Davis And Hammon: A Step Forward, Or A Step Back?, Tom Lininger

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and lower court judges hoped that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the consolidated cases of Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (hereafter simply Davis) would provide a primer on testimonial hearsay. In retrospect, these hopes were somewhat unrealistic. The Davis ruling could not possibly clear up all the confusion that followed Crawford v. Washington, the landmark 2004 case in which the Court strengthened the right of the accused to confront declarants of testimonial hearsay. In Davis, the Court focused on the facts under review and developed a taxonomy that will be useful in similar cases ...


Still "Left In The Dark": The Confrontation Clause And Child Abuse Cases After Davis V. Washington, Anthony J. Franze, Jacob E. Smiles Jan 2006

Still "Left In The Dark": The Confrontation Clause And Child Abuse Cases After Davis V. Washington, Anthony J. Franze, Jacob E. Smiles

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In his concurring opinion in Crawford v. Washington, Chief Justice Rehnquist criticized the majority for holding that the Confrontation Clause applies to “testimonial” statements but leaving for “another day” any effort to define sufficiently what “testimonial” means. Prosecutors and defendants, he said, “should not be left in the dark in this manner.” Over the next two years, both sides grappled with the meaning of testimonial, each gleaning import from sections of Crawford that seemingly proved their test was the right one. When the Court granted certiorari in Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (hereinafter Davis), hopes were high that ...


Davis/Hammon, Domestic Violence, And The Supreme Court: The Case For Cautious Optimism, Joan S. Meier Jan 2006

Davis/Hammon, Domestic Violence, And The Supreme Court: The Case For Cautious Optimism, Joan S. Meier

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Supreme Court’s consolidated decision in Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana offers something for everyone: by “splitting the difference” between the two cases—affirming one and reversing the other—the opinion provides much grist for advocates’ mills on both sides of this issue. While advocates for defendants’ rights are celebrating the opinion’s continued revitalization of the right to confrontation, which began in Crawford v. Washington, advocates for victims have cause for celebration as well: the decision is notable for its reflection of the Court’s growing—albeit incomplete— awareness and understanding of the dynamics of domestic ...


Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana: Beating Expectations, Robert P. Mosteller Jan 2006

Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana: Beating Expectations, Robert P. Mosteller

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

I begin with a question of effectiveness: does the new Confrontation Clause doctrine effectively protect defendants with respect to the most im-portant types of problematic out-of-court statements? Although they leave much room for the introduction of hearsay in the immediate aftermath of crime generally, Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (together hereinafter Davis) are better opinions from that broad perspective than I had feared. The new doctrine now covers and provides substantial procedural protection for a very important class of problematic hearsay—statements made to government agents investigating past crime.


Putting The Guesswork Back Into Capital Sentencing, Sean D. O'Brien Jan 2006

Putting The Guesswork Back Into Capital Sentencing, Sean D. O'Brien

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court deemed it “incon-testable” that a death sentence is cruel and unusual if inflicted “by reason of [the defendant’s] race, religion, wealth, social position, or class, or if it is imposed under a procedure that gives room for the play of such prejudices.” Arbitrary and discriminatory patterns in capital sentencing moved the Court to strike down death penalty statutes that required judges or juries to cast thumbs-up or thumbs-down verdicts against offenders found guilty of capi-tal crimes. The issue of innocence was barely a footnote in Furman; the Court’s concerns ...


The Revolution Enters The Court: The Constitutional Significance Of Wrongful Convictions In Contemporary Constitutional Regulation Of The Death Penalty, Jordan Steiker Jan 2006

The Revolution Enters The Court: The Constitutional Significance Of Wrongful Convictions In Contemporary Constitutional Regulation Of The Death Penalty, Jordan Steiker

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Over the last decade, the most important events in American death pen-alty law have occurred outside the courts. The discovery of numerous wrongfully convicted death-sentenced inmates in Illinois led to the most substantial reflection on the American death penalty system since the late 1960s and early 1970s. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan, a Republi-can, first declared a moratorium on executions in 2000 and eventually commuted all 167 inmates on Illinois’s death row in 2003. The events in Illinois reverberated nationwide. Almost overnight, state legislative agendas shifted from expanding or maintaining the prevailing reach of the death penalty to studying ...


The High Court Remains As Divided As Ever Over The Death Penalty, George H. Kendall Jan 2006

The High Court Remains As Divided As Ever Over The Death Penalty, George H. Kendall

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

More than three decades ago, in Furman v. Georgia, a sharply divided Supreme Court struck down all existing capital punishment schemes be-cause the results they generated were arbitrary, discriminatory, and unreasoned. No member of that Court remains on the Court today, and the Court has grown increasingly conservative ever since. Nevertheless, impor-tant questions concerning the administration of capital punishment continue to wrought deep divisions within the Court, for instance in determining whether racial bias influences the system, in determining the sufficiency of new evidence of innocence to justify review of a defaulted claim in habeas corpus proceedings, in determining a ...


Legitimizing Error, Rebecca E. Woodman Jan 2006

Legitimizing Error, Rebecca E. Woodman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Since Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court has sought to harmonize competing constitutional demands under Eighth Amendment rules regulat-ing the two-step eligibility and selection stages of the capital decision-making process. Furman’s demand for rationality and consistency requires that, at the eligibility stage, the sentencer’s discretion be limited and guided by clear and objective fact-based standards that rationally narrow the class of death-eligible defendants. The selection stage requires a determination of whether a specific death-eligible defendant actually deserves that punish-ment, as distinguished from other death-eligible defendants. Here, fundamental fairness and respect for the uniqueness of the individual are the ...


Circling Around The Confrontation Clause: Redefined Reach But Not A Robust Right, Lisa Kern Griffin Jan 2006

Circling Around The Confrontation Clause: Redefined Reach But Not A Robust Right, Lisa Kern Griffin

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Supreme Court’s consolidated ruling in United States v. Davis and United States v. Hammon is a classic of the genre of consensus opinions to which the Roberts Court aspired in its first, transitional term. The opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, contains practical accommodations unusual in a decision by the Court’s fiercest proponent of first principles. The restraint that characterized the term is, of course, more about considerations of logistics (including the desire to avoid re-arguments after the mid-term replacement of Justice O’Connor) than about the alignment of logic. Because it reflects temporary institutional constraints rather than ...