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Maryland v. Craig

Supreme Court of the United States

April 18, 1990, Argued ; June 27, 1990, Decided

No. 89-478

Opinion

 [*840]  [***675]  [**3160]    JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

 This case requires us to decide whether the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment categorically prohibits a child witness in a child abuse case from testifying against a defendant at trial, outside the defendant's physical presence, by one-way closed circuit television.

In October 1986, a Howard County grand jury charged respondent, Sandra Ann Craig, with child abuse, first and second degree sexual offenses, perverted sexual practice, assault, and battery. The named victim in each count was a 6-year-old girl who, from August 1984 to June 1986, had attended a kindergarten and prekindergarten center owned and operated by Craig.

In March 1987, before the case went to trial, the State sought to invoke a Maryland  [**3161]  statutory procedure that permits a judge to receive, by one-way closed circuit  [****8]  television, the testimony of a child witness who is alleged to be a victim of child abuse. 2 ] To invoke the procedure, the  [*841]  trial judge must first "determine that testimony by the child victim in the courtroom will result in the child suffering serious emotional distress such that the child cannot reasonably communicate." Md. Cts. &  [***676]  Jud. Proc. Code Ann. § 9-102(a)(1)(ii) (1989). Once the procedure is invoked, the child witness, prosecutor, and defense counsel withdraw to a separate room; the judge, jury, and defendant remain in the courtroom. The child witness is then examined and cross-examined in the separate room, while a video monitor records and displays the witness' testimony to those in the courtroom. During this time the witness cannot see the defendant.  [*842]  The defendant remains in electronic communication with defense counsel, and objections may be made and ruled on as if the witness were testifying in the courtroom.

 [****9]  In support of its motion invoking the one-way closed circuit television procedure, the State presented expert testimony that the named victim, as well as a number of other children who were alleged to have been sexually abused by Craig, would suffer "serious emotional distress such that [they could not] reasonably communicate," § 9-102(a)(1)(ii), if required to testify in the courtroom. App. 7-59. The Maryland Court of Appeals characterized the evidence as follows:

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497 U.S. 836 *; 110 S. Ct. 3157 **; 111 L. Ed. 2d 666 ***; 1990 U.S. LEXIS 3457 ****; 58 U.S.L.W. 5044; 30 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 1

MARYLAND v. CRAIG

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND.

Disposition: 316 Md. 551, 560 A. 2d 1120, vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

confrontation, face-to-face, witnesses, courtroom, child witness, trauma, right to confront, communicate, cases, cross-examination, testifying, closed circuit television, reliability, hearsay, child abuse, trial court, declarant, accusers, one-way, sixth amendment, serious emotional distress, psychological, protect a child, defendant's right, child abuse case, well-being, emotional, demeanor, invoked, rights

Criminal Law & Procedure, Trials, Examination of Witnesses, Transmitted & Videotaped Testimony, Family Law, Family Protection & Welfare, Children, Abuse, Endangerment & Neglect, Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, Judges, General Overview, Children & Minors, Child Abuse, Elements, Counsel, Substitution & Withdrawal, Child Witnesses, Evidence, Scientific Evidence, Psychiatric & Psychological Evidence, Battered Child Syndrome, Proceedings, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Confrontation, Defendant's Rights, Bill of Rights, State Application, Exemptions, Statements by Coconspirators, Testimony, Competency, Affirmations & Oaths, Disability, Children, Witnesses, Presentation