The History of Children's Hearsay: From Old Bailey to Post-Davis
Thomas D. Lyon
University of Southern California - Gould School of Law; University of Southern California - Department of Psychology
Irell & Manella LLP
Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 82, 2007
USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 07-7
The United States Supreme Court has recently held that in order to determine the application of the Confrontation Clause to hearsay, one should examine common practice in 18th century British courts. Analyzing 18th century treatises and trial reports, this paper demonstrates that children's hearsay statements alleging abuse were routinely admitted when children were too young to testify, and that R. vs. Brasier, an oft-cited 1779 case, did not change this practice. Rather, both the courts and commentators believed that a best evidence approach should be applied - children should testify whenever possible, but when they could not, their hearsay could be heard. The paper proposes an interpretation of the Confrontation Clause forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine that captures both historical and contemporary intuitions about what is fair in criminal cases when child victims are too young to testify.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: evidence, hearsay, children, confrontation, sexual abuse, rape
Date posted: June 4, 2007
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