Confrontation Clause Essay

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The confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him. This right includes the ability of the accused to have a face- to- face confrontation with the witnesses giving testimonial evidence against them during a trial. In Ohio V. Clark, two main issues arise. The first is whether or not an individual’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that person an agent for law enforcement for purpose of the confrontation clause. The other key issue is whether or not a child’s out- of- court statements to a teacher in response to a teachers concern about potential child abuse qualify as testimonial statements. The case Ohio V. Clark involves a young boy, L.P. and his mother’s boyfriend, Darius Clarke. Three-year-old L.P. was at school when one of his teachers noticed his black eye in addition to multiple bruises and marks on his body. Upon questioning, L.P. stated, “Dee did it.” Mrs. Whitley, the teacher, then contacted the authorities and shortly after a social worker arrived at the school. As the social worker was questioning L.P., Clark showed up and took the boy back home while denying any responsibility. The next day, social workers took the boy and his sister to the hospital where they determined that both L.P. and his younger sister had been abused. Clarke was charged with domestic violence, felonious assault, and multiple accounts of child endangerment. The trial judge found L.P. incompetent to testify at trial but allowed several witnesses to testify for him. The court found Clark guilty and sentenced him to twenty-eight years in prison. When the case went to the Supreme Court, they argued that the witness’s testimonies were inadmissible under the confrontation clause and that only L.P.’s statements to

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