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Original Sin

Trial Magazine, October 2008

Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 117

6 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2008 Last revised: 1 Jul 2013

Craig Bradley

Indiana University Maurer School of Law


"Original Sin" discusses the Supreme Court's attempt to discern the original meaning of the Constitution as the basis of two recent decisions: the Second Amendment case, Heller v. Dist. of Columbia, and the much less well known Sixth Amendment case of Giles v. California. It focuses primarily on Giles, where the question was whether the defendant in a murder trial had forfeited his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him by killing the victim. The California courts had held that this was "forfeiture by wrongdoing" and consequently the victim's prior hearsay statements against the defendant could be used. The Supreme Court, after much futile discussion of history, concluded that only if the defendant's wrongdoing was for the purpose of preventing a witness from testifying would he forfeit his Sixth Amendment right.

Keywords: Criminal Procedure, Sixth Amendment, Confrontation Clause, Forfeiture by Wrongdoing

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Bradley, Craig, Original Sin. Trial Magazine, October 2008; Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 117. Available at SSRN:

Craig Bradley (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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