A convicted California killer deserves a new trial because jurors heard testimony that should have been excluded, said a Supreme Court ruling today reported by the Associated Press. Dwayne Giles’ ex-girlfriend made the statements shortly before he killed her. The justices, voting 6-3, reaffirmed the rights of criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them, even in cases where the defendant is responsible for the witness’ absence.
The Los Angeles Times, in an earlier story cited by Crime & Justice News, said advocates for victims of domestic violence had warned that the Giles case could help create an incentive to kill. Today’s opinion case was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who has been a staunch defender of the Constitution’s guarantee that defendants can confront their accusers. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined Scalia’s opinion. Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurred in part. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent jointed by John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy.