Russell Babcock argues Nevarez v. Katavich to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

On December  Russell Babcock argued the case of Nevarez v  Katavich  (12-56058) to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena.

To Listen to the Entire Oral argument, click here.

Mr. Nevarez was convicted largely upon the word of his young son who told a police officer investigating the case that , “daddy had a gun” and that “daddy had threatened to kill mommy when he wanted.”  The problem with the statements was that the son was never presented as a witness by the prosecution.  The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires in most instances that when a witnesses statement is to be used in court, it must be subject to cross-examination.  Without allowing the defense to have a chance to cross-examine the witness, the testimony may inherently be unreliable  i.e. coached by mom or mistaken.

The argument was engaging.  Justice Graber appeared to recognize that there has been a violation but that it might have been “harmless.”  Justice Callahan questioned whether the court should rule on the issue because the attorneys below did not properly preserve it.  Justice Gould appeared to suggest that there should be an exception to the Confrontation clause for young witnesses, an idea unprecedented in the law.

This case is important because everyone who is convicted of a crime has the right to be confronted by the witnesses against them  This is what distinguishes the jurisprudence of the United States from countries such as Russia and Venezuela.

I will keep the readers updated on the results on this case.