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Witness Confrontation Law Update

19
Feb
2010

by in Criminal Appeals

State v. Tyrone Emmons, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-6544-06T4 (January 7, 2010) – Convictions reversed. “We are satisfied that under the circumstances presented here, defendant’s constitutional right to confront the witnesses against him was violated when Christofferson failed to appear in court as directed and failed to submit to further interrogation by defense counsel on matters affecting her credibility….

Christofferson was the lead witness called by the State and the only witness who directly identified defendant as the shooter…. Impeaching her credibility as a witness was thus a key component of the defense’s strategy….

Reversing its earlier erroneous ruling, the court declared that defendant was entitled to question Christofferson about her open charge of shoplifting and have the jury consider whether her testimony in this trial may be ‘colored’ to curry favor with the State on this seemingly unrelated matter.

An equally relevant area of inquiry was information discovered by the prosecutor’s investigator concerning Christofferson’s possible use of other names or social security numbers….

Upon discovering Christofferson’s absence, an apparent willful disregard of the court’s instruction to make herself available for further questioning, the court should have either adjourned the proceedings for a reasonable time to permit defense counsel and/or the prosecutor to locate her or, if she could not be produced for further questions, declare a mistrial.” (Robert L. Sloan, A.D.P.D.)

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