Courts across the country have struggled to keep their dockets moving forward during the pandemic given the limitations imposed by both health and legal restrictions imposed on in-person hearings. One way some courts have dealt with the restrictions is by limiting the parties and witnesses allowed in the courtroom. This approach has spawn numerous challenges to the sufficiency of proceedings conducted under these circumstances. Not the least of these challenges include due process and confrontation clause issues.
While not a COVID related decision, the Missouri Supreme Court recently decided (Jan. 11, 2022) a case that presented the issue of whether two-way video testimony violated a criminal defendant's right to confront witnesses. The court's analysis is based on both Crawford and Craig, the two U.S. Supreme Court's decisions oft cited in confrontation clause challenges. Ultimately, the Missouri Supreme Court found that allowing a witness to testify about DNA evidence via two-way video violated the defendant's right to confront witnesses against him. Its worth noting
that the court acknowledged there are circumstances where such testimony could have meet constitutional requirements had the court below made certain findings. Its a good read for anyone facing a trial under COVID protocols where witnesses are allowed to testify via video or where a defendant is not allowed to be present in the courtroom.
If you face a criminal charge under COVID protocols where witnesses are allowed to testify against you without either you or the witness in the courtroom, its vital that you properly object (both contemporaneously and in your post-trial motions) to the lack of confrontation. Jones Law has attorney's experienced in handling constitutional challenges to criminal charges. If you face criminal charges, Jones Law may be able to help. If you have questions or concerns, you may reach us by phone at (931)-532-0665 or by email at [email protected] to see if we can be of assistance.