West Virginia Supreme Court in State vs. Kaufman Continues to Support the Confrontation Clause and Questions Admissibility of Out of Court Statements being Admitted at Trial

On June 22, 2011, the West Virginia Supreme Court released its opinion in the State of West Virginia versus David Wayne Kaufman, an appeal from the Circuit Court of Wood County. This case was a confrontation clause case under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In the State vs. Kaufman, the West Virginia Supreme Court issued an opinion with ten syllable points. What is clear is that the West Virginia Supreme Court continued support of the defendant's right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment. The West Virginia Supreme Court found that any admission of extrajudicial testimony under the confrontation clause is not admissible unless they can: 1) demonstrate the unavailability of the witness and 2) prove the reliability of the witness' out-of-court statement. On the question of whether or not the reliability of an out-of-court statement deals with the exceptions to hearsay, the West Virginia Supreme Court found that you do not have to make an inquiry as to the reliability statement where it falls into a firmly routed hearsay exception. Now this decision is a continuation to follow up Crawford vs Washington, wherein, the United States Supreme Court said that the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and also the West Virginia Constitution, which would be Section 14, Article 3, bars the admission of testimonial witness where the person is not to appear at trial. Crawford also was supported by the decision of State vs. Mechling, where they said a testimonial statement of a witness who does not appear at trial does not come in unless the witness is unavailable and Mchugh's had a prior opportunity to cross-examine that witness. Now after Crawford, there was a lot of discussion and opinions around the country as what is testimonial. Now the West Virginia Supreme Court in State vs Kaufman said that a testimonial statement is generally a statement that is made under circumstances which would lead an objective witness to reasonably believe that the statement would be available for use later at trial. This language was taken from syllabus 8 of State vs Mechling.

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