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Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly

Abstract

In its Spring 2004 term, the Supreme Court, in Crawford v. Washington, explicitly articulated the test to determine the admissibility of evidence offered against the accused when the declarant is unavailable, clarifying the prior ambiguous test of Ohio v. Roberts. The Court in Crawford stated that: if (1) the declarant is legally unavailable to testify at trial and (2) the prior statement is testimonial in nature, then testimony is not admissible unless the defendant had a prior opportunity to cross examine the witness. The Crawford clarification appears to strike a death knell to the use of child abuse reporting statements by the prosecution because of the uniqueness of child declarants and the hesitancy to place a child on the witness stand in court. This note analyzes the effect of the Crawford decision upon child abuse reporting statements, and consequently, prosecutions of child abuse crimes. Believing that, in most cases, child abuse reporting statements are testimonial in nature and thus, must satisfy the requirements of Crawford, the note suggests the best possible avenues for the admissibility of these statements while balancing the interests of the child declarant, the rights of the defendant, and the interests of the state in the analysis.

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