Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The Confrontation Clause, found in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides criminal defendants with the right to confront adverse witnesses.' A literal interpretation of the Confrontation Clause would preclude courts from allowing the admission of all hearsay testimony. The Court has rejected this interpretation, noting that it would render meaningless every exception to the rule against hearsay. Although unwilling to hold that the Confrontation Clause mandates exclusion of all hearsay, the Court has found that the Clause requires the exclusion of some hearsay statements. The Supreme Court has struggled to define the relationship between the exceptions to the rule against hearsay and the limitations that the Confrontation Clause imposes.

In its most recent effort, White v. Illinois, the Court held that the Confrontation Clause does not require the prosecution to show that the declarant is unavailable prior to the introduction of hearsay statements under the spontaneous declaration and medical diagnosis exceptions to the hearsay rule. The White majority explained that its decision in United States v. Inadi limited the unavailability requirement set forth in Ohio v. Roberts" to out-of-court statements introduced under the former testimony exception to the hearsay rule. In addition, the Court found that the admission of hearsay testimony and the use of right.., to be confronted with witnesses against him ...." U.S. Const., Amend. VI. child-protective in-court procedures present discrete Sixth Amendment problems.