Appeal: State of Washington v. J. H., Case No. 10-1-00109-7.
Prosecutor's Office Concedes Confrontation Clause Violation.
Thurston County Prosecutor's Office has conceded on appeal that the district court violated the defendant's Constitutional Right to confront witnesses where it allowed the State to admit into evidence a “proof of service” form alleging the defendant was served notice of a no contact order without testimony from the police officer who signed the form. According to Massachusetts v. Melendez-Diaz, a sworn statement offered to prove an element of a crime is “testimony,” and the 6th Amendment to the Constitution affords a defendant the right to question state witnesses who offer evidence against him at trial. On appeal, the prosecutor's office conceded its argument at trial was wrong, and that a defendant at trial must be able to question the person who alleges they served the defendant with a no contact order. This may possibly be the first ruling in the State of Washington to apply Melendez-Diaz to a “proof of service” form commonly used at trial as a substitute to live testimony. Particularly in Thurston County, this concession should substantially alter how the prosecutor's office prosecutes no contact order violation cases.
Practice area(s): Appeals