Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ohio v. Roberts case brief

Ohio v. Roberts case brief summary
448 U.S. 56 (1980)

Petitioner State appealed a judgment from the Supreme Court of Ohio that reversed defendant's conviction for forgery of checks and possession of credit cards on grounds that the admission at defendant's trial of certain testimony from defendant's preliminary hearing violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause, U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI. Petitioner contended that the evidence was properly admitted, under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2945.49(1975).

At defendant's criminal trial for forgery of checks and possession of stolen credit cards, the trial court admitted into evidence, pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2945.49 (1975), testimony from defendant's preliminary hearing by a witness not present at trial that contradicted defendant's testimony that he had permission to use the checks and credit cards in question. The appellate court reversed defendant's convictions, and the Ohio state supreme court affirmed, on grounds that defendant's rights under the Confrontation Clause were violated. (U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI).


  • On certiorari, the Court reversed. 
  • The Court rejected defendant's contention that because the witness was not cross-examined during the preliminary hearing, the testimony was inadmissible at trial. 
  • The Court ruled that because defendant's counsel questioned the witness at the preliminary hearing and because the questioning was replete with leading questions, the testimony bore sufficient indicia of reliability so as not to offend the Confrontation Clause. 
  • Further, the Court ruled because the evidence clearly established that the witness was not available at trial, the trial court properly admitted the testimony.
The Court reversed a judgment that reversed defendant's convictions forgery of checks and possession of credit cards because petitioner carried its burden that the witness, whose preliminary hearing testimony was admitted into defendant's criminal trial, was unavailable at trial and, because the testimony bore sufficient indicia of reliability, as defendant's counsel questioned the witness, it was properly admitted at defendant's trial.

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