New York Court Of Appeals Signals Legislature To Review Video Teleconferencing At Criminal Trial

By Michael S. Quinn

"Courtrooms . . . cannot sit idly by, in a cocoon of yesteryear, while society and technology race towards the next millennium."

The next millennium is now. In 2004, Live Video Teleconferencing (VTC) testimony of an adult witness was used at criminal trial in the Bronx County Supreme Court. Pitting the policy interest of preserving the well-being of an infirmed elderly witness against a defendant's right to face-to-face confrontation, a case of first impression was born. In late 2009, the New York State Court of Appeals reviewed People v. Wrotten, appraising the constitutionality of this technologically infused trial testimony. To resolve the appeal, the high court relied on the opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who in Maryland v. Craig stated "we have never held . . . that the Confrontation Clause guarantees criminal defendants the absolute right to a face-to-face meeting with witnesses against them at trial."

The thrust of this note is to convince the New York State Legislature to run with Wrotten and enact a statute allowing unavailable infirmed witnesses to testify via two-way video at criminal trial. As revealed in this article, although the Wrotten majority "justly resolv[ed the] criminal case[], while at the same time protecting the well-being of a witness," its untidy language wells with an opportunity for prospective abuse in future cases. The Legislature ought to plug these leaks, for variations of this infant procedure likely will be deemed repugnant to the Constitution.

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Purchase the article, New York Court Of Appeals Signals Legislature To Review Video Teleconferencing At Criminal Trial. subscribers can access Wrotten But Not Dead: High Court of New York Signals Legislature to Review Televised Testimony at Criminal Trial, 21 Alb. L.J. Sci. & Tech. 193, and these following related resources.

People v. Wrotten, 923 N.E.2d 1099 (N.Y. 2009).

Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (U.S. 1990).

Examining Witness By Closed-Circuit Television, 1-2 Bender's New York Evidence § 2.001(c) (Matthew Bender).

The Sixth Amendment: Confrontation Clause, 1-3 United States Supreme Court Cases and Comments P 3.05 (Matthew Bender).

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