Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Cases
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Cases (2004): Miller v. State
In this case presided over by Judge Johnson, Victor Cornell Miller, who was the appellant was tried and convicted of two counts of 1st degree murder, by malice afterthought. Four exasperating conditions were found by the jury in which the defendant had been previously convicted of felony, the defendant had knowingly created a death risk to people, had committed the murder with the purpose of avoiding prosecution, and the possibility that the defendant would commit violent criminal acts; thus, threaten the society. The case involved Mary Bowles as the plaintiff, who had been abducted and later on murdered. Therefore, the case recognizes that the prosecution of Miller was based on the previous counts of criminal charges.
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Cases (2005): Mitchel v. State
The appellant in the case was John Lawrence Mitchell, who had been convicted by Oklahoma County District Court for child sexual abuse and 1st degree murder of Charita. The argument of the case was based on the argument of 10 O.S.Supp.1999, § 7115 in which Mitchell was charged on three counts; existence of aggravating circumstances, the previous persuasion of a delinquency relating threat of viciousness, and discernment of the defendant as a continued threat to society.
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Cases (2005): Hunt v. State
In this case, the appellant Randal Ray Hunt was vexed and sentenced of1st degree manslaughter under three aggravating circumstances. The recommendation of the jury was for the establishment of punishment by death. The plaintiff in the case was Wynonan Reames. However, upon several appeals, Hunt’s death punishment was reversed and was remanded pending a new trial in the Oklahoma Criminal Appeals Court.
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Cases (2005): Taylor v. State
The presiding judge, Lewis tried the appellant, Lawrence Jamere Taylor of two counts of crimes. In the first count, Taylor was charged with murder in the 1st degree as a desecration of 21 U.S. Supp.2006 701.7(A). On the second count, Taylor was charged with shooting with the intention to kill; thus, violating 21 U.S.Supp.2007, 652(A). As a result, the sentence as was pronounced by the judge was a life imprisonment in both counts. This case is significant as it presents the effect of use of insufficient evidence in support of the conviction for shooting. Additionally, the law court was of the view that the plaintiff was bigoted by being rejoined into two different cases in a single trial.
U.S. Supreme Court Cases
U.S Supreme Court Cases (2004): Crawford V. Washington (02-9410) 541 U.S. 36
The petitioner’ Michael Crawford is based the understanding of this case on the alleged stabbing and attempted rape. However, without being given the opportunity for cross-examination, the petitioner’s conviction was upheld, and the wife’s statement determined as reliable. As a result, the jury to the case made a ruling applying the guarantee by the Sixth Amendment, that ‘in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.’ Two counts of trial were administered against Crawford; attempted murder and assault.
U.S Supreme Court Cases (2004): Davis v. Washington (Nos. 05-5224 and 05-5705)
The jury in this case was required to determine the statements that are often made in regard to the law enforcement personnel in a 911 call or at the crime scene were testimonial. To achieve this, the jury relied on the requirements of the Confrontational Clause carried in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution. The case involved Davis and the partner McCottry and the reliable evidence obtained was the recorded 911 call. Consequently, Davis was charged with felony violation of a domestic no-contact order. The state only relied on the evidence presented by the two officers in which case the ruling was held that McCottry suffered recent injuries. The admittance of the 911 testimonial in which Davis is recognized would have implied that they were harmless.
U.S Supreme Court Cases (2009): Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (No. 07-591)
In this case the Massachusetts Court admitted affidavits as part of the evidence into the determination of the forensic analysis results showing the seizing of materials by the police of a defendant. The main question as was presented to the judges was whether the affidavits would be testimonials to be used to render the affiants based on the right of confrontation of a defendant under the Sixth Amendment.
U.S Supreme Court Cases (2011): Michigan v. Bryant (No. 09-150)
The opinion delivered in this case related to the trail of Richard Bryant as a respondent in which statements admitted by Anthony Covington, as a target who was established mortally injured in a gas station was incorporated into the ruling. Bryant was convicted inter alia for a 2nd degree murder. However, based on the appeal that the defendant made, the Supreme Court of Michigan held that the Confrontation clause enclosed in the Sixth Amendment be upheld. The ruling by the jury applied the decision in the Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813 (2006) and Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). The state was also granted a petition for a writ of certiorari for a consideration on whether the Confrontation Clause prevented the admittance of the police’s statements at the trial.
U.S Supreme Court Cases (2012): Williams v. Illinois
The context for this case was based on the determination of the extent of the alleged rape as orchestrated by Sandra Lambatos, who was a criminological specialist at the Illinois State Police. In her testimony, she noted that a DNA profile produced by an outside laboratory had matched a profile in that of the State laboratory. Her testimony was at a point excluded by the defense on grounds of Confrontation clause as it implicated Cellmark’s (Outside laboratory) activities. The ruling in this case affirmed the found evidence and the guilt of the petitioner; hence, concluded that Lambastos’ testimony did not violate the confrontation rights of the petitioner.
Mosteller, Robert P., Crawford v. Washington, Encouraging and Ensuring the confrontation of Witnesses (October 2, 2012). University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2005; Duke Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 200.
This commentary is apprehensive with the examination of the basic teachings and uncertainties that resulted from the wake of Crawford, and sifted through the scores of opinions in the early courts for the analysis of its meaning and impact. In the case of Crawford v. Washington (2004), the Confrontation Clause was radically altered by the U.S Supreme Court; thus, triggering the need for analysis of the admissions of hearsay statements. The argument of the case led to the creation of firm rule of actual confrontation termed ‘testimonial statements.’ Only a limited number of exceptions were created. Therefore, the article sought to argue that in the development of the doctrine, the concern ought to have been on the constructions that encourage and ensure confrontations than the preoccupation with excluding evidence such as expansive interpretations of forfeiture doctrine.
Sklansky, David Alan, Hearsay’s Last Hurrah. Supreme Court Review, Vol. 1, 2009; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1531334.
The article addresses the recent interpretation of the Confrontation Clause by the Supreme Court in the cases of Crawford v. Washington, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, and Giles v. California. In this regarded, the interpretation praised the decoupling of the Sixth Amendment from hearsay law. Realistically, the study suggested that civil law countries were warming for the hearsay rule in like manner as the common-law countries were tired of it. Therefore, by analyzing the Confrontation Clause, the article presents the hearsay rule as unpopular, excludes much probative evidence with little justification, and treats the Confrontation clause as a codification of evidence rulings in which the Crawford cases seek to divert attention captured by the hearsay rule.
Fenner, G. Michael, Today’s Confrontation Clause (After Crawford and Melendez-Diaz) (November 16, 2009).
The early law in this case that relates to the Confrontation Clause as spelt out in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S Constitution stated that ‘in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.’ Based on this law, the Supreme Court recognized the meaning of the Clause and made it undergo a radical change. In this commentary, the writer pursues to present the sharp turn in the implementation of the Confrontation Clause by discussing the new understanding of the Clause as presented in the Crawford v. Washington 2004 and Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts 2009 cases.
Preliminary Thesis Statement
The Oklahoma Statutes (2012) in the 22nd title and 15th section provides for the Confrontation Clause that defines how a convicted person should relate to the witnesses and evidence presented against him/her. The Confrontation Clause has been widely used by the Oklahoma State Courts in various rulings as discussed above, and in all the rulings, the juries had a common understanding to the Clause in relation to the accused in all criminal prosecutions having the right to be confronted by all the witnesses against him. The Confrontation Clause is largely supported and contained in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; thus, forming the key basis for the rulings by the Supreme Courts in cases such as those of Crawford v. Washington and Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts in 2004 and 2009, respectively.
Preliminary Subject Outline
The following outline shall be followed in understanding the subject matter in relation to the Confrontational Clause as presented in the Sixth Amendment.
a. History of the accused being granted access to witnesses.
b. Miller v. State (2004) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
c. Mitchel v. State (2005) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
d. Hunt v. State (2005) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
e. Taylor v. State (2005) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
f. Crawford V. Washington (2004) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
g. Davis v. Washington (2004) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
h. Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
i. Michigan v. Bryant (2011) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
j. Williams v. Illinois (2012) discussion incorporating earlier cases cited.
k. General understanding of the Confrontational Clause.
l. Application of case law to principles to facts to the case in Crawford v. Washington.
m. Procedure for enforcement of the clause.
n. Harmless of reversible error for violation of the clause.
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History of Hearsay and the Granting of the Accused Access to Witnesses
The Oklahoma Courts have in several occasions been involved in criminal judicial proceedings whose determination goes beyond the common application of common law. For a long period of time, courts had relied on hearsays as part of evidence against criminal cases, but after the introduction of the Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment, judges requires defense teams and the prosecution to grant the appellants the opportunity to meet with the witnesses to their cases. This led to incorporation of the Confrontation Clause in significant rulings such as Miller v. State in 2004, Crawford V. Washington (2004), Mitchel v. State (2005), Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009), and Williams v. Illinois (2012), just to mention a few.
In times past, the ruling regarding hearsay was that it would be admissible even if not provided for by an act of law. However, after 2011, the US Supreme Court through the exercise of the Constitutional powers stated that the admissibility of the hearsay could not be accepted without an act of the Legislature.
Analysis of Supportive Cases to Confrontational Clause and Hearsay
The core cases used in the understanding and expression of the aspects of this clause and statute as enshrined in the Sixth Amendment are Miller v. State (2004), Mitchel v. State (2005), Hunt v. State (2005), Taylor v. State (2005), Crawford V. Washington (2004), Davis v. Washington (2004), Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009), Michigan v. Bryant (2011), and Williams v. Illinois (2012).
In Miller v. State (2004), the court’s concern was in drawing a distinction between the testimonial and non-testimonial hearsay, a common view held by the jury in the Crawford v. Washington. However, the non-testimonial hearsay can still be used admissibly against an accused provided that the testimony was within the three realms defined by the court as extrajudicial statements, ex-parte in-court testimonies, and formalized testimonials. Statements made under these conditions were taken as objective and reasonable to be used for trial.
In Mitchel v. State (2005), the jury relied on the statements issued by witnesses to the case against Mitchel, although Mitchel claimed that the trial was infected by inadmissible hearsay; hence deprived him of the right to cross-examination and confrontation of the witnesses. This aspect can be considered as a direct violation of the Sixth Amendment and Article 2, 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution. According to the Clause, the admission of the testimonial hearsay are only allowed at criminal trial only, and only when the witnesses are unavailable, which were not the exact representation in the case against Mitchel. All the witnesses could be availed but, instead, the court opted to have them record statements with Detective Edwards.
In Crawford v. Washington, the aspects of the Confrontation Clause are clearly elaborated when the U.S. Supreme Court denied the appellant an opportunity to have the witnesses against him cross-examined. Instead, the petitioner’s conviction was upheld, and the wife’s statement determined as reliable. As a result, the jury to the case made a ruling applying the guarantee by the Sixth Amendment, that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”
Subsequently, the contents of the Clause and the Sixth Amendment are discussed in the Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009). In this case, the main question as was presented to the judges was whether the affidavits obtained from the forensic analysts would be testimonials to be used to render the affiants based on the right of confrontation of the defendant under the Sixth Amendment.
General Understanding of the Confrontational Clause
The appellants in the cases discussed in this paper have a common issue around the understanding of their rights in relation to the enforcement of the Confrontational Clause. Both the Oklahoma State Courts and the U.S Supreme Courts in various states concurred that the reliance on a particular testimonial had to be verified in order not to be categorized as hearsay. The application of both common and criminal laws requires that criminal offenders be presented with an opportunity to cross-examine their witnesses, and their testimonials.
The right in this clause is for a face-to-face confrontation and cross-examination of the witnesses offering testimonial evidence to the court against the accused by the accused/defendant. This clause is clearly set out in the 6th Amendment, and is largely founded on two principles; the right to cross-examination of a defendant and the right to access out-of-court statements. The out-of-court statements allowed by this clause include:
a. Statements by a non-testifying victim made during interrogation by the police.
b. Statements by a non-testifying victim to emergency medical responders, social workers or hospitals.
c. Autopsy reports by a non-testifying medical examiner.
Such statements by a non-testifying respondent have been widely applied and identified in the cases of Crawford v. Washington and Melendez-Diaz v. Massachussets.
The Confrontation Clause has roots in the English common law in which it is required to protect the right of cross-examination of accused persons and offer a guarantee to the criminals with regard to the committed crimes.
Application of Case Law to Principles and Facts in the Case of Crawford v. Washington
The Crawford v. Washington case of 2004 is critical in the legal history in the U.S for the reason that the decision made during this ruling dynamically altered the criminal rules applied when prosecutors seek to cross-examine criminals. In this case, the concern is in relation to whether the prosecutors can use out-of-court statements to develop a case against the appellants.
Before this case, the known position as was held by the US Supreme Court was that the out-of-court statements had no effect on the form and nature of prosecution; hence, did not violate the confrontation clause as spelt out in the 6th Amendment, for as long as they were adequately reliable. However, with the ruling made in the Crawford v. Washington, the US Supreme Court altered the course of the clause and determined that the appellants had the right to cross-examine the out-of-court statements that were collected and being used in the case against them, regardless of whether the statements were reliable or not.
After the ruling made in this case of Crawford, the government was restrained from using out-of-court statements offered as testimony against a defendant to propagate the proceedings of the case except for under specific conditions. First, the statements could only be used if the witness was unavailable. Second, the requirement was that the use of such statements had to be done only when the respondent had been prearranged the opportunity to previously interact and cross-examine the witness.
Ultimately, when the principles and facts of this case were accepted, the US Supreme court moved to recently carve a significant exception to the general rule, referred to as the ‘dying declarations.’ According to this new declaration as carried out in the case of Michigan v. Bryant, the ruling made by the Court was to the effect that the statement made by a dying person could be used and entered as evidence in a trial. This was only to the extent that the statement was made with the intent of assisting the police with the ‘ongoing emergency’ into a criminal case, and not for investigations that were continuing or for investigations to past crimes.
Procedure for Enforcement of the Clause
In ideal sense, this clause was more about the procedure used in admonishing the appellants and not the substance of the clause. For this clause, the core aspect of recognition was with the right to confront a witness against him and cross-examine their testimonials. However, the procedure for this clause was not concerned with eth truth or falseness of the hearsay. Instead, the procedure for enforcement only recognized the concern on whether the hearsay declarant would be a witness or not, and whether the defendant had been given the right to confront and cross-examine the declarants. This points out to a two-way process in which the key concern was with the confrontation and not the establishment of the truth in a given statement.
In Crawford v. Washington, the identifiable procedure was with the interaction more than the pursuit of the prosecution. Upon the establishment of the confrontation, the court would not mind about the reliability of the testimonial hearsay that the declarants gave.
Harmless of reversible error for violation of the clause
The violations to the Confrontation Clause are subject to harmless error review, implying that even with the admission of the evidence in violation of the Clause, the appellant is not entitled to a new hearing should the reviewing court be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the inadmissible evidence did not contribute to the former verdict. However, this harmless error is not a standard of review, but an analysis of the effect the error might have on the decision by the jury.
If a defendant fails to object the inadmissibility of the evidence during trial or fails to stipulate whether she/he is objecting on Confrontation Clause grounds, the reviewing court will be require to only review to the extent that substantial errors like ‘plain error’ or errors in resulting in manifest of injustice are noticed. There was no objection for this clause by the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal when it reviewed it for plain errors. Subsequently, there was a wide variation in the requirements by various States in relation to the reviews for the errors in the Clause, except for manifest injustice and plain error. In most circumstances, courts have sought to reverse on the Clause on unknown grounds without analysis of the error’s harmless. In most occasions, the omission of the analysis is attributed to the failure by the government to raise harmlessness as an issue, since it is not the duty of the appellants to raise the harmlessness if not done so by the government.
The US Constitution, particularly its 6th Amendment is quite dynamic and intriguing owing to the expression of the Confrontation Clause, which grants all the criminal examinations the right to be antagonized with witnesses against them. This paper has been largely concerned with the development and understanding of the aspects of the Clause in its totality by discussing the relevant cases that have since been adjudicated with the parameters of the Confrontation Clause. Key among these cases are the Miller v. State (2004) and Crawford v. Washington (2004). Other significant cases studied in this research paper include Mitchel v. State (2005), Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009), and Williams v. Illinois (2012). A core understanding portrayed in the paper is that the Confrontation Clause was largely concerned with the hearing of the testimonial hearsays and not with the admissibility or reliability of the same since, no change was effected into the rulings made based on the outcomes of the confrontation. This study has also looked into the application of the case laws to principles, harmless review of the Clause and the procedure for the enforcement of the Clause.