The ever excellent Federal Evidence Review has this nice summary and analysis of White v. Illinois.

While here they report:

Vacating cocaine distribution conviction and remanding because defendant’s trial included expert testimony by a witness about the contents of the drug identification analysis reported by a non-testifying expert, violating the Confrontation Clause; as the expert’s trial testimony "simply parroted the conclusion" of the non-testifying expert, the testifying expert’s "testimony amounted to no more than the prohibited transmission of testimonial hearsay," in United States v. Ramos-Gonzlez, __ F.3d __ (1st Cir. Dec. 9, 2011) (No. 10–1318).

And on the other confrontation issue they report:

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing airs differing viewpoints on televising Supreme Court proceedings; while there is general agreement that televised proceedings would be beneficial, the primary issue is whether the Supreme Court should voluntarily decide when and how to do so or whether Congress should enact legislation; separation of powers issues and a potential constitutuional showdown are noted; newly introduced legislation (S. 1945) would permit a majority of the Court to authorize televised proceedings.

We now have fairly prompt posting of the audio of argument.  I’m uncertain why video at the Supremes (or CAAF, or  . . .) should be treated any differently.

Cross posted CL/CMTP

5 Responses to “In the Supremes-Confrontation”

  1. Zachary Spilman says:

    C-Span would carry entire arguments, but it is true that others might use excerpts. It is also true that newspaper reporters use the text equivalent of sound bites all the time. We call them quotations.

    The justices’ real fear is probably not that their questions would be taken out of context but that they would be made to look silly, as they do occasionally say goofy things.

    In a speech in July, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg collected 10 examples of amusing comments from the term that had just ended, including questions about a “9,000-foot cow,” Satan and whether smoking marijuana amounted to the destruction of evidence.

    Justice Ginsburg drew this conclusion: “From the foregoing samples, you may better understand why the court does not plan to permit televising oral arguments any time soon.”

  2. Zachary Spilman says:


    But substitute with the justices of the Supreme Court.

  3. WestCoastDefense says:

    I know that the argument is allowing TV cameras somehow threatens the sanctity of the proceedings.  Would clips be taken out of context and played on Letterman and the Daily Show?  Of course.
    To my mind though the decision to allow cameras into the courtroom is a conscious decision to allow the American people the opportunity to better understand how the rule of law works in their country and a refusal to be dictated to by the lowest common denominator looking to obfuscate, crack jokes or score political points. 
    I actually believe we should NOT let TV cameras into trial courtrooms but SHOULD allow them into appellate court proceedings (including the Supremes) and yet we do things the exact opposite in this country.  In appellate courts one is discussing matters of law and policy, what the law is and what the law should be.  At the trial level there’s an often messy search for truth and findings of fact.  If we’re worried about clips from the Supreme Court being taken out of context, by a similar rationale, we shouldn’t allow media coverage of people campaigning for the presidency because what they say and do can be taken out of context and used to confuse the public as your youtube clip so eloquently demonstrates.

  4. Charlie Gittins says:

    I believe that sunlight disinfects and our Government should be required to be open to the maximum extent possible.   F the Supremes — they should be open, on on TV.  TV might make them less inclined to be stupid.  As for trial court proceedings on TV, I suspect that mostly it would be pick and choose, but, so what?  The jury hears it all and makes a decision, beyond a reasonable doubt.  I believe that the least impacting TV would be appellate proceedings.  If judges with life tenure are going to be influenced by what the public perceives about their performance, they should not have been appointed to start with — they do not have the character to be on the bench to start with.

  5. Disappointed says:

    I’ve waited a while to see if Mr. Gittins’ comment would draw fire. Sadly, it did not.

    If I recall correctly, this blog spent considerable time last year on elevating the standards for dialogue and decency, including a number of proposals involving visible accountability for the comments made on the board. Ultimately those standards were relaxed somewhat in order to facilitate a free exchange of ideas.

    I don’t think it adds much to that free exchange to say things like “F the Supremes”. In fact, it falls somewhat short of protecting the integrity of the legal profession, as that aim is described in the principles listed in the Navy JAG’s rules of professional responsibility.

    I’d like to see better from Mr. Gittins; a little nudge in that direction from the mods here wouldn’t hurt.