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United States v. Beaman

United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Northwestern Division

June 25, 2004, Filed

Case No. C4-03-076



Before the Court is the Government's Motion to Allow Telephonic/Video Testimony of Prosecution Witness Wayne Ross or, in the alternative, to Continue Trial, filed on June 23, 2004. The Government anticipates that Ross, an employee of the Redwood Toxicology Laboratory in California, will testify at trial that the Defendant's [**2]  urinalysis tested positive for methamphetamine. The basis for the Government's motion is that Ross cannot appear in person to testify at trial because he is subject to subpoenas in two other criminal cases issued prior to the federal subpoena. The Defendant has not stipulated to the admission of Ross's report at trial, does not waive his right to confront witnesses against him in open court, and has objected to any continuance of trial.

] The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment reads in relevant part that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him." U.S. Const. amend. VI. ] "The central concern of the Confrontation Clause is to ensure the reliability of the evidence against a criminal defendant by subjecting it to rigorous testing in the context of an adversary proceeding before the trier of fact." Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 845, 111 L. Ed. 2d 666, 110 S. Ct. 3157 (1990). ] "The right guaranteed by the Confrontation Clause includes not only a personal examination . . . but also (1) insures that the witness will give his statements under oath--thus impressing him with the seriousness of the matter and [**3]  guarding against the lie by the possibility of a penalty for perjury; (2) forces the witness to submit to cross-examination, the greatest  [*1034]  legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth; [and] (3) permits the jury that is to decide the defendant's fate to observe the demeanor of the witness in making his statement, thus aiding the jury in assessing his credibility." Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 845, 111 L. Ed. 2d 666, 110 S. Ct. 3157 (internal citations and quotations omitted). "The combined effect of these elements of confrontation--physical presence, oath, cross-examination, and observation of demeanor by the trier of fact--serves the purposes of the Confrontation Clause by ensuring that evidence admitted against an accused is reliable and subject to the rigorous adversarial testing that is the norm of Anglo-American criminal proceedings." Id.

The optimal way of conducting a trial is for the witness to appear in person in court to face the defendant, and to be subject to cross-examination in their presence (historic preference for in-person encounters between accused persons and their accusers). "American criminal procedure, however, is pragmatic. It recognizes that [**4]  this ideal condition can not be made available in every instance if there is to be an effective search for the truth in an atmosphere protecting the defendant's needs for fairness and due process and the public's right to protection against crime." United States. v. Gigante, 971 F. Supp. 755, 756-57 (E.D.N.Y. 1997) (citing Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 850, 111 L. Ed. 2d 666, 110 S. Ct. 3157 (1990) (sanctioning the use of closed circuit television to transmit testimony of a witness when "necessary to further an important public policy" and where "the reliability of the testimony is otherwise assured")).

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322 F. Supp. 2d 1033 *; 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11662 **

United States of America, Plaintiff, -vs- Joshua L. Beaman, Defendant.

Prior History: United States v. Beaman, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10127 (D.N.D., June 3, 2004)

Disposition:  [**1]  Plaintiff's Motion to Allow Telephonic/Video Testimony of Prosecution Witness Wayne Ross (Docket No. 27) GRANTED. Plaintiff's Motion to Continue Trial (Docket No. 27) DENIED as moot.


video, criminal procedure, cross-examination, witnesses

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Confrontation, Criminal Law & Procedure, Trials, Defendant's Rights, General Overview, Examination of Witnesses, Evidence, Testimony, Competency, Affirmations & Oaths, Witnesses, Presentation, Standards of Review, Harmless & Invited Error, Judicial Discretion, Transmitted & Videotaped Testimony