Ohio v. Roberts
448 U.S. 56 (1980)
- Roberts was charged with forging a check in Isaac's name.
- At a preliminary hearing, Roberts called Isaac’s daughter
as a witness and blamed her for giving the check to Roberts.
- The daughter denied the allegation, and after testifying
she disappeared and did not respond to subpoenas to testify.
- At trial, Roberts argued that the daughter had given him
- The prosecution attempted to introduce the preliminary
hearing testimony of the daughter denying that she gave Roberts the check.
- Roberts argued that the testimony could not be used
because it was hearsay.
- The prosecution argued that the testimony was not hearsay
because under Ohio law, testimony from the preliminary examination of a
witness was admissible if the witness was not available at trial.
- Roberts argued that since he did not have the opportunity
to cross-examine the witness at the trial, the testimony violated the Confrontation
Clause of the 6th Amendment.
- The Trial Judge found that the testimony was admissible.
- The Trial Court convicted Roberts of forgery. He appealed
on the grounds that the daughter's testimony had been improperly admitted.
- The Ohio Supreme Court reversed. The prosecution
- The Ohio Supreme Court found that Roberts had not had
sufficient opportunity to cross-examine the witness, and therefore the
testimony was not admissible.
- The US Supreme Court reversed and found that the
preliminary testimony could be used.
- The US Supreme Court found that:
- The daughter was under oath and the environment was
trial-like when she testified at the preliminary hearing.
- Roberts had the opportunity to examine the daughter and
he used this opportunity.
- Therefore, the statements are considered reliability and
even though the statement doesn’t fit under any of the exceptions to
hearsay, it is still admissible under the FRE 807 residual
- Basically, the Court found that under the Confrontation
Clause, the prosecution must demonstrate:
- Unavailability of the declarant and,
- That the hearsay has “indicia of reliability” sufficient
to justify dispensing with confrontation by showing:
- That the testimony fell within a “firmly rooted hearsay
exception” or that,
- The statement was accompanied by “particularized
guarantees of trustworthiness.”