Monday, March 20, 2006

Using 911 tapes

Did you know that you can call 911, make a criminal accusation against someone, and send the man to jail? He can be prosecuted based on those 911 tapes without you ever having to testify at his trial.

The 6th Amendment to the US Constitution says that a criminal defendant has a right to confront the witnesses against him at trial, and the US Supreme Court is currently considering letting defendants Davis and Hammon exercise that right.

A couple of lawyers in the domestic violence industry argue:
Domestic violence accounts for up to 34 percent of all reported violent crimes, but it is notoriously difficult to prosecute, ... In the 1980's and 1990's, the refusal of victims to cooperate in the prosecution of their batterers may have resulted in the dismissal of as many as 70 percent of all domestic violence cases.

In recent years, however, prosecutors, police officers and advocates for domestic violence victims have developed techniques, together known as "evidence-based prosecution," that focus on the use of reliable evidence, like 911 tapes, to build cases that do not depend on the cooperation of the victim.
In other words, the US Constitution's ban on the use of hearsay evidence
is limiting the ability of feminist do-gooders to bust up marriages.
Sometimes a couple has a fight and then reconciles, but prosecutors
want to jail the husband anyway.

To convict Davis, the court had to justify the use of 911 tapes:
The Washington Supreme Court first determined that the purpose of an emergency 911 call "is generally not to 'bear witness'" but rather to obtain "help to be rescued from peril." ... The court rejected the ar gument that McCottry reasonably knew that her call would later be used to prosecute petitioner, finding "no evidence that McCottry had such knowledge or that it influenced her decision to call 911."
I think that most people know that 911 tapes can be used on court. If not, you'd better learn now.

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