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On June 18, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Ohio v. Clark. This case involved two questions regarding the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause: (1) whether an individual’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause. The Supreme Court of Ohio rejected Clark’s challenge to his conviction on these grounds.
The United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio by a vote of 9-0 and remanded the case. In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito and joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Sotomayor, and Kagan, the Court held that because neither the child nor his teachers had the primary purpose of assisting in Clark’s prosecution, the child’s statements did not implicate the Confrontation Clause and therefore were admissible at trial. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Ginsburg, filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Thomas also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Michael O’Shea, who is a Professor of Law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.