Thursday, October 19, 2006

That Virginia Court of Appeals split on funky Crawford application

In Gilman v. Com., on rehearing en banc, the Virginia Court of Appeals split 5-5 on whether to affirm or reverse the conviction of a woman found guilty of criminal contempt of court based on the affidavit of a juvenile court judge.

In the panel decision, Judge Fitzpatrick dissented, on the issue of whether the affidavit was used "testimonial hearsay" used in violation of the defendant's rights under the Sixth Amendment as construed by the Supreme Court in the famous Crawford decision.

What makes it funky to me is that I'm not sure that the juvenile judge could testify. The Code says: "No judge shall be competent to testify in any criminal or civil proceeding as to any matter which came before him in the course of his official duties." Va. Code 19.2-271. If the Commonwealth can't use an affidavit, and can't call the judge as a witness, how can it prove this kind of criminal contempt case? I wonder.

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