Virtual Confrontation: Is Videoconference Testimony by an Unavailable Witness Constitutional?
34 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2008 Last revised: 10 Aug 2014
Date Written: June 11, 2007
Because United States courts have no subpoena power over foreign witnesses, securing their in-person testimony in criminal cases presents serious difficulties for prosecutors. Video conferencing technology may offer a creative solution to this problem. However, defendants often challenge video testimony on constitutional grounds, arguing that its use in court violates their Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses testifying against them. Courts have split over the constitutional status of video testimony, and its legality remains uncertain. This Comment resolves the split by examining the history, purpose, and jurisprudence of the Confrontation Clause and identifying the constitutional standards that courts should apply to video testimony. Analyzing foreign and domestic deposition procedures, the Comment identifies numerous situations where video testimony serves an important public policy and is constitutionally permissible.
Keywords: Confrontation, Confrontation Clause, Sixth Amendment, Video, Videoconference, Testimony
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