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SCOTUS decision: Teacher testimony allowed in child abuse case

by AirTalk®

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An english instruction sheet lies on a student's desk during a class in Lakeside California on Thursday, January 27, 2005. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

(AP) Statements that children make to teachers about possible abuse can be used as evidence, even if the child does not testify in court, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday.

The ruling is expected to make it easier for prosecutors to convict people accused of domestic violence. The justices said that defendants don't have a constitutional right to cross-examine child accusers unless their statements to school officials were made for the primary purpose of creating evidence for prosecution.    

The case involves Darius Clark, a Cleveland man convicted of beating his girlfriend's 3-year-old son. Clark says the trial court denied him the constitutional right to confront his accuser when it said the boy didn't have to testify, but still considered statements he made to preschool teachers describing abuse.

The Supreme Court reversed a lower court and upheld Clark's conviction.

OHIO v. CLARK

Guests:

Joan Meier, Professor of Clinical Law at the George Washington University in D.C., with expertise on domestic violence and the law. She co-authored an amicus brief in support of the petitioner in the case

Richard Friedman, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan who wrote an amicus brief in support of the the respondent in the case

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