Friday, June 22, 2007

Helping CAAFlog: Cabrera-Frattini, an Easy Crawford case, or is it?

I'll help CAAFlog with one, CAAF holds that a life threatening illness is sufficient cause to excuse a witness from trial and admit deposition testimony in Cabrera-Frattini. CAAF unanimously reverses NMCCA and holds that Crawford v. Washington does not bar admission of the deposition testimony because the mental illness of the witness made it impossible for her to safely testify due to the consequences of the testimony on her psyche. Here is the testimony that gets the G over Crawford:

Dr. Bock testified that TO’s mental condition deteriorated significantly after TO gave her deposition. As evidence, Dr. Bock cited TO’s suicide attempt. Its gravity was magnified by
the fact that it was her second attempt. In her sessions with Dr. Bock, TO focused on the issue of testifying at the trial as one of the reasons that she could not go on living, believing it would be better to be dead than to testify. TO’s condition required Dr. Bock to administer antipsychotic and moodstabilizer medications to treat her disorders. Dr. Bock and other practitioners treated TO in the hospital for almost a week. Dr. Bock discharged TO on December 10, 2001. Dr. Bock described TO’s prognosis upon release from hospitalization as “guarded,” noting that TO had “a serious chronic psychiatric disorder.” She did not expect TO’s mood to begin to show signs of stabilizing for at least six to twelve months due to her illness, as that was the time needed for the antipsychotic and mood-stabilizing drugs to have an appreciable effect. Dr. Bock expected a difficult recovery period with a possibility of re-hospitalization. Dr. Bock concluded that it would be detrimental for TO to testify as a witness based upon TO’s demonstrated sychological abnormalities before and during hospitalization.

I am sympathetic to the cause here of admitting a child rape victim's deposition. But does anyone see a potential for mischief when mental illness, not to the level of disqualifying the witness, but, rather, fear of testimony is the basis for overcoming the Confrontation Clause? Maybe not because the facts here are so extreme, but just a thought.

1 comment:

J said...

Read the case, the trauma arises not from the alleged sex acts but from actually having people find out about the sexual acts. This is clearly not permitted under Crawford.