Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, guarantees to a criminal defendant the right, in all criminal prosecutions, to be confronted with the witnesses against him. 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.
Prior to a trial for drug offenses, defendant raised the issue of entrapment and extensive hearings were conducted. Over defendant's objection, the prosecution's chief witness was permitted to testify against defendant while wearing a mask and without disclosing his true identity. Subsequently, defendant was convicted by a jury of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, and conspiracy to deliver cocaine. Defendant challenged his conviction, arguing that his Sixth Amendment right of confrontation was violated when the trial court permitted the prosecution’s chief witness, to testify at the entrapment hearing while wearing a mask, and without disclosing his true identity.
Was the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right of confrontation violated when the trial court permitted the prosecution’s chief witness, to testify at the entrapment hearing while wearing a mask, and without disclosing his true identity?
On review the court held that the protections afforded by the Confrontation Clause were available to defendant at the entrapment hearing as a means of ensuring the reliability of evidence submitted against him. The court held that defendant's Sixth Amendment right of confrontation was violated because the masking of the prosecution's chief witness precluded the trial judge from adequately observing the witness's demeanor when testifying, which denied the defendant a critical aspect of his confrontation rights. The court held that if a new entrapment hearing were not held, or if the trial court determined after a hearing that defendant was entrapped, then defendant's convictions would be reversed and the charges would be dismissed.