The Supreme Court today reinstated a Nevada child molester’s conviction, continuing the justices’ refusal to apply recent criminal procedure rulings to older cases, reports the Associated Press. The man was convicted in 1988 on the basis of his 6-year-old stepdaughter’s statements to police. In 2004, the court ruled that defendants have a constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses against them. The question was whether that rule would apply to older cases. Justice Samuel Alito, for a unanimous court, said no. The 2004 case “did not effect a change of this magnitude,” he said.
The Supreme Court has refused a dozen times over 17 years to apply new rules of criminal procedure to older cases. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said the rule should apply retroactively and overturned the Nevada conviction.