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Fri Jun 19, 2015, 04:30 PM

 

"Teachers aren't cops": Unions praise Supreme Court ruling

Source: Washington examiner

Teachers are not law enforcement, so statements from a student to a teacher are admissible in court even if the student doesn't testify.

The Supreme Court unanimously decided as much when it announced its ruling in Ohio v. Clark on Thursday. In March 2010, a preschool teacher asked a three-year-old student about the student's bloodshot and bloodstained eye. The child said her mother's boyfriend had caused them. The teacher reported the injuries, as required under Ohio law, leading to the boyfriend's arrest and conviction for child endangerment, among other crimes.

The Supreme Court of Ohio eventually ruled that the child's statement to her teacher was inadmissible evidence. Because teachers are required to report suspected child abuse, the teacher was acting as an agent of law enforcement, so the child's out-of-court statement was inadmissible, the court said. The federal Supreme Court's decision reversed that ruling.

Read more: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/teachers-arent-cops-unions-praise-supreme-court-ruling/article/2566636?custom_click=rss&utm_campaign=Weekly+Standard+Story+Box&utm_source=weeklystandard.com&utm_medium=referral



9-0. Pretty obvious that this shouldnt be a problem in the future. It was a ridiculous assumption in the first place, IMO.

8 replies, 2471 views

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Reply "Teachers aren't cops": Unions praise Supreme Court ruling (Original post)
7962 Jun 2015 OP
Comrade Grumpy Jun 2015 #1
Yo_Mama Jun 2015 #2
BlueEye Jun 2015 #4
HardLineDem Jun 2015 #5
BlueEye Jun 2015 #8
7962 Jun 2015 #6
BlueEye Jun 2015 #7
murielm99 Jun 2015 #3

Response to 7962 (Original post)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 04:36 PM

1. I don't understand. How is that not hearsay?

 

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 04:54 PM

2. Hearsay isn't always excluded.

There are a number of exceptions.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearsay_in_United_States_law

The case decided yesterday turned on whether the child's responses to the teachers' questioning about the source of the child's injuries was inadmissable. The defense had argued that the child's statements were testimonial because the fact that the teachers had a legal duty to report meant that the child might as well have been talking to the cops. Testimonial statements made to police are excluded in many circumstances.

The child in question couldn't even have made valid testimony because of his very young age.

In criminal law, Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), reformulated the standard for determining when the admission of hearsay statements in criminal cases is permitted under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Crawford gives enhanced protection to defendants when the hearsay offered against them is testimonial in nature. When a statement is deliberately accusatory, or when the declarant knows that the statement is likely to be used in the prosecution of the defendant for a crime, the need for face-to-face confrontation is at its highest. When statements are directly accusatory, the defense needs an opportunity to explore the accuser's motives. Where statements are the product of police interrogation, there is a need to ensure that the testimony is not the product of improper coercion or intimidation.




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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:06 PM

4. Although the hearsay evidence rule is rooted in the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment...

there are a number of significant exceptions in common law, as well as those codified in Federal Rules of Evidence, Article VIII, Rule 803:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_803

Justice Alito's opinion based on a modification of a precedent set in a similar 1980 case (by the 2004 decision Yo_Mama referred to), with the "adequate indicia of reliability" rule:

The Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which is
binding on the States through the Fourteenth Amendment,
provides: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused
shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses
against him.” In Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U. S. 56, 66
(1980), we interpreted the Clause to permit the admission
of out-of-court statements by an unavailable witness, so
long as the statements bore “adequate ‘indicia of reliability.’”
Such indicia are present, we held, if “the evidence
falls within a firmly rooted hearsay exception” or bears
“particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.” Ibid.


The entire opinion here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-1352_ed9l.pdf

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Response to BlueEye (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:14 PM

5. Am I the only one who thinks that this is fishy?

The opinion cited sounds as if it's saying, "hearsay evidence is admissible if we say it is".

However, the teacher's noting injuries to the child and carrying on from there doesn't sound like hearsay at all.

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Response to HardLineDem (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:37 PM

8. It's pretty complex. The entire opinion sort of makes sense.

Basically, the Confrontation Clause, as interpreted by SCOTUS over the last few decades, generally is considered to apply to statements whose primary purpose is testimony. Statements obtained from police who heard them during interrogations obviously classify as such. When the statements are primarily testimonial, the accused as the right to confront the witness, since those statements' reliability may be in question (because the witness has ulterior motives? That part is a little unclear to me).

But "nontestimonial" statements, such as the teacher observing the injuries and questioning the child ordinarily as he or she would, are basically not subject to the Sixth Amendment and hence, other standards for judging those statements admissibility and reliability come into play.

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Response to BlueEye (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:15 PM

6. I'm sorry, but i couldnt help laughing:

 

All this "legal" talk and references, then I see this line:
"by the 2004 decision Yo_Mama referred to),"
And lost it!! Wouldnt have been nearly as funny if you referenced a post by any other member!!

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Response to 7962 (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:25 PM

7. LOL, I know, I laughed when I wrote that.

I did not read her post as I wrote my own, and then I went back and saw hers and realized that she was right regarding the 2004 case, so rather than rewrite my own post, I just figured I would direct everybody to hers.

Of course, everybody on DU is a constitutional law scholar.

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Response to 7962 (Original post)

Fri Jun 19, 2015, 04:58 PM

3. Teachers can get into a LOT of trouble if they don't report.

This is just one more way to dump on teachers.

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