Supreme Court to Hear Domestic Violence Homicide Case
Friday, February 8, 2008 1:38 PM

Since the 2004 Crawford v. Washington decision, the Sixth Amendment’s “confrontation clause” procedural requirements have been changed. In that case, the Court ruled that statements from witnesses who do not come to court and thus cannot be confronted by their accusers should be excluded. This has had a great impact on victims of domestic violence. The concern is that perpetrators use coercion to keep victims and witnesses from testifying. In 2006, the Court said that defendants who do this lose the protection of the confrontation clause, but observers note that the Court may have accepted Giles v. California to further clarify this point of law.

The Court is expected to hear Giles v. California in April, a case in which the defendant is accused of shooting and killing his former girlfriend. A possible outcome is the Court will conclude that as long as the victim’s unavailability as a witness was a foreseeable consequence of the murder, the Sixth Amendment does not require the state to prove the actual motive for the murder was to make the victim unavailable. A ruling is expected in late summer.

Compiled from:Supreme Court to Hear Domestic Homicide Case,” Family Violence Prevention Fund, 31 January 2008.