Monday, November 4, 2013

Olden v. Kentucky case brief

Olden v. Kentucky case brief summary
488 U.S. 227 (1988)

Petitioner prisoner was convicted of forcible sodomy, but was acquitted of rape and kidnapping, and his codefendant was acquitted of being either a principal or an accomplice to any of the charged offenses. The prisoner's conviction was upheld by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The Court granted certiorari.

The prisoner appealed the trial court's refusal to allow him to impeach his codefendant's testimony, arguing that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him. In upholding the conviction, the state appellate court found that the evidence was properly excluded as its probative value was outweighed by its possibility for prejudice.

  • On appeal, the United States Supreme Court held that the state appellate court failed to accord proper weight to the prisoner's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. 
  • That right, incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment and available in state proceedings, included the right to conduct reasonable cross-examination. 
  • The prisoner consistently asserted that he and the victim engaged in consensual sexual acts and that the victim, out of fear of jeopardizing her relationship with the codefendant, lied when she told the codefendant that she had been raped and had continued to lie since. 
  • The Court ruled that it was plain that a reasonable jury might have received a significantly different impression of the witness's credibility had defense counsel been permitted to pursue his proposed line of cross-examination.


The Court reversed the judgment of the state appellate court and remanded for further proceedings.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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