Protecting the Right to Confront
An op-ed in today's NY Times frets about two cases before the Supreme Court that ask whether a 911 call should be admitted into evidence to prove a criminal charge when the caller doesn't testify as a witness. The writers worry that domestic abusers go unpunished when their victims refuse to testify, and argue that 911 calls are the only evidence in those cases that can "bring domestic abusers to justice."
The unstated assumption in the op-ed, of course, is that 911 callers are always victims who call to report an actual crime. This is nonsense. Some 911 calls are pranks. Some 911 calls are made by unharmed but bitter individuals who want to make trouble for spouses or roommates. Some 911 calls are made in anger, and the accusations that are voiced are exaggerated. Some 911 calls are made by people who are drunk or drug-influenced or mentally ill. Assuming, as does the op-ed, that 911 calls are inherently "reliable evidence" is absurd.
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