*"In April 2001, police in Detroit found Covington at a gas station with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, in great pain, and having a hard time speaking. When asked “what had happened, who had shot him, and where the shooting had occurred,” Covington replied that he was shot outside a nearby home, had driven himself to the gas station and identified the assailant as Richard “Rick” Bryant.
After the five- to 10-minute conversation, the victim was taken to a hospital, where he soon died."* Bryant was found guilty of second degree murder. He appealed, claiming his right to cross examine the witness under the Constitution’s confrontation clause was violated, and his conviction was overturned.
Yesterday the Supremes found in a 6-2 verdict that the dying man’s words fell under the “excited utterances” or “dying declaration” exception and reinstated the man’s conviction.
The 2 dissenters were Bader-Ginsberg and Scalia. Here’s a portion of what Scalia had to say on the matter: *“Today’s tale – a story of five officers conducting successive examinations of a dying man with the primary purpose, not of obtaining and preserving his testimony regarding his killer, but of protecting him, them, and others from a murderer somewhere on the loose – is so transparently false that professing to believe it demeans this institution. . . In its vain attempt to make the incredible plausible, however – or perhaps as an intended second goal – today’s opinion distorts our Confrontation Clause jurisprudence and leaves it in a shambles. Instead of clarifying the law, the court makes itself the obfuscator of last resort.”
. . . “For all I know, Bryant has received his just deserts. But he surely has not received them pursuant to the procedures that our Constitution requires. And what has been taken away from him has been taken away from us all.”* I think I have to side with Scalia on this one. Is he right? What kind of precedent does this ruling set for future cases? How might it be applied, or, misapplied as the case may be? I’m not an attorney, but I’m finding this ruling unsettling on a gut level, so perhaps the more knowledgeable folks around here might persuade me otherwise.