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Gentry v. Deuth

United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky

March 17, 2004, Decided

CASE NO. 5:03CV-15-J

Opinion

 [*616] MEMORANDUM OPINION

This habeas corpus case raises a constitutional challenge to the admission of expert witness testimony in a state criminal trial by way of two-way, closed circuit television. Petitioner alleges that she was denied her right to adequately confront five prosecution witnesses in violation of the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. She now claims that, contrary to Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 848-50, 111 L. Ed. 2d 666, 110 S. Ct. 3157 (1990), no compelling state interest or public policy was offered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to justify permitting its expert witnesses to testify electronically from a remote location. She also claims that the live, two-way television system was not adequate to ensure the reliability of the [**2]  expert witness testimony admitted against her at trial.

This matter is now before the Court to consider petitioner's objections (DN 29) to the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge. (DN 28). The magistrate judge recommended that the motion of the respondent for summary judgment be granted, and that the petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be dismissed. In his report, the magistrate judge rejected the petitioner's Confrontation Clause argument. According to the magistrate judge, the Craig decision, which involved a one-way video system, was distinguishable from the petitioner's case, in which the experts were permitted to testify via a live, two-way video conference system designed to permit the respondent, counsel, judge and witness to view one another simultaneously. The magistrate judge also found that petitioner's case was "further distinguishable from Craig," because the witnesses involved were expert witnesses less susceptible to the forces of eye-to-eye confrontation than the child fact-witness who testified in Craig.

For these reasons, the magistrate judge concluded that "the respondent has persuasively  [*617]  shown that the concerns expressed [**3]  in Craig do not apply herein." (DN 28, p. 4). This conclusion led the magistrate judge to ultimately determine that the decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals that rejected petitioner's Confrontation Clause argument was not clearly contrary to, nor did it involve an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

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381 F. Supp. 2d 614 *; 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27371 **

CARRIE GENTRY, PETITIONER v. DORIS DEUTH, WARDEN, RESPONDENT

Subsequent History: Vacated by, in part, Summary judgment denied by, Writ of habeas corpus granted Gentry v. Deuth, 381 F. Supp. 2d 630, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27372 (W.D. Ky., May 21, 2004)

Disposition: Respondent's motion for summary judgment granted; Petitioner's motion for summary judgment denied; petition for writ of habeas corpus dismissed with prejudice.

CORE TERMS

two-way, trial court, video, state court, confrontation, magistrate judge, courtroom, closed circuit television, expert witness, public policy, witnesses, alcohol, prior to trial, transmission, one-way, corpus, conferencing, remote, expert testimony, videoconference, blood, direct appeal, Sixth Amendment, reliability, television, decisions, discovery, summary judgment, closed circuit, blood serum

Criminal Law & Procedure, Habeas Corpus, Procedure, General Overview, Custody Requirement, Custody Determinations, Satisfaction of Custody, Review, Standards of Review, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Trials, Defendant's Rights, Right to Confrontation, Evidence, Hearsay, Rule Components, Nonverbal Conduct, Examination of Witnesses, Child Witnesses, Demonstrative Evidence, Photographs, Visual Formats, Transmitted & Videotaped Testimony, Civil Procedure, Harmless & Invited Errors, Harmless Error Rule, Appeals, Admissibility, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, Harmless & Invited Error, Constitutional Rights, Harmless Errors, Procedural Defenses, Exhaustion of Remedies, Testimony, Expert Witnesses, Criminal Proceedings, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Exclusion & Preservation by Prosecutors, Expert Witnesses, Juries & Jurors, Province of Court & Jury, Legal Issues, Jurisdiction, Cognizable Issues, Questions of State Law