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NCJ Number: 211174 Find in a Library
Title: Lessons of People v. Moscat: Confronting Judicial Bias in Domestic Violence Cases Interpreting Crawford v. Washington
Journal: American Criminal Law Review  Volume:42  Issue:3  Dated:Summer 2005  Pages:995-1009
Author(s): David Jaros
Date Published: 2005
Page Count: 15
Document: DOC
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Washington, regarding the admissibility of a testimonial statement, on the Confrontation Clause and specifically on the prosecution of domestic violence cases with reference to People v. Moscat and judicial decisionmaking.
Abstract: Crawford v. Washington was a groundbreaking decision that radically redefined the scope of the Confrontation Clause with the most significant impact felt within the context of domestic violence prosecutions. In Crawford, the Supreme Court reversed the Confrontation Clause jurisprudence holding that, no matter how reliable, a testimonial statement cannot be admitted against a defendant unless the accused has had an adequate opportunity to cross-examine the witness who made the statement. Because domestic violence cases are subject to a unique set of political and institutional forces it makes it necessary to appreciate the influences to fully understand the interpretation of the scope of the Crawford decision. To better understand the impact of the Crawford decision on domestic violence cases, this paper references People v. Moscat where Mr. Moscat was charged with hitting and threatening his girlfriend. After Mr. Moscat’s arrest, the victim was not willing to prosecute, however a 911 tape existed. In an environment that has become uniquely sensitized to the needs of the prosecution and the complaining witness, the judge in this case made a decision interpreting Crawford in the narrowest terms. The 911 call was relied upon as an out-of-court statement to establish the defendant’s guilt. However, the 911 tape revealed that the facts described in the judge’s decision were distinct from the actual circumstances of the call. The caller was not the complaining witness, but a neighbor who calmly made the call about 8 hours after the alleged assault. The tape was considered a testimonial statement. The Moscat case should act as a warning to all those concerned with preserving a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Moscat serves to emphasize the dangerous tension between a judge’s role as a neutral arbitrator of the law and his/her role as an advocate trying to stem domestic violence.
Main Term(s): Judicial decisions
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Court system; Domestic assault; Evidence; Judicial discretion; Right to confront witnesses; Rights of the accused; Rules of evidence; Testimony; US Supreme Court decisions; Witness credibility
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