The right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, of criminal defendants to have the witnesses against them testify in open court, face to face with them and the fact-finder, and to cross-examine those witnesses.
The Sixth Amendment’s
Normally, words may not be reported by others or in writing that is, the witness must appear and may be cross-examined under the full panoply of courtroom safeguards. However, the defendants’ entitlements are qualified. For example, the separate, long-standing evidentiary rule against hearsay has numerous exceptions permitting second-hand or reported evidence, most of which, if they are deemed “firmly rooted” (rational and historically traditional), the Court has gradually been incorporating into the confrontation clause as in White v. Illinois
Once witnesses are produced at trial, defendants’ opportunity to cross-examine them may similarly be confined within reasonable limits. In Montana v. Egelhoff
Thus, the rights conferred by the confrontation clause are not absolute but are qualified by countervailing concerns and may amount merely to a strong preference.
Jury, trial by
Maryland v. Craig
Pointer v. Texas