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DOUGLAS v. ALABAMA

decided: April 5, 1965.

DOUGLAS
v.
ALABAMA



CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF ALABAMA.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Goldberg

Author: Brennan

[ 380 U.S. Page 416]

 MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner and one Loyd were tried separately in Alabama's Circuit Court on charges of assault with intent to murder. Loyd was tried first and was found guilty. The State then called Loyd as a witness at petitioner's trial. Because Loyd planned to appeal his conviction, his lawyer, who also represented petitioner, advised Loyd to rely on the privilege against self-incrimination and not to answer any questions. When Loyd was sworn, the lawyer objected, on self-incrimination grounds, "to this witness appearing on the stand," but the objection was overruled. Loyd gave his name and address but, invoking the privilege, refused to answer any questions concerning the alleged crime. The trial judge ruled that Loyd could not rely on the privilege because of his conviction, and ordered him to answer, but Loyd persisted in his refusal.*fn1 The judge thereupon granted the State Solicitor's motion "to declare [Loyd] a hostile witness and give me the privilege of cross-examination." The Solicitor then produced a document said to be a confession signed by Loyd. Under the guise of cross-examination to refresh Loyd's recollection, the Solicitor purported to read from the document, pausing after every few sentences to ask Loyd, in the presence of the jury, "Did you make that statement?" Each time, Loyd asserted the privilege and refused to answer, but the Solicitor continued this form of questioning until the entire document

[ 380 U.S. Page 417]

     had been read.*fn2 The Solicitor then called three law enforcement officers who identified the document as embodying a confession made and signed by Loyd. Although marked as an exhibit for identification, the document was not offered in evidence.

This procedure, petitioner argues, violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment as applied to the States. The statements from the document as read by the Solicitor recited in considerable detail the circumstances leading to and surrounding the alleged crime; of crucial importance, they named the petitioner as the person who fired the shotgun blast which wounded the victim.*fn3 The jury found petitioner guilty.

[ 380 U.S. Page 418]

     The Court of Appeals of Alabama affirmed, 42 Ala. App. 314, 163 So. 2d 477. Although stating that Loyd's alleged confession was inadmissible in evidence against petitioner under state law because "there must be confrontation face to face to allow viva voce cross-examination before the jury," and noting that "it might be claimed that the repeated and cumulative use of the confession might have been an indirect mode of getting the inadmissible confession in evidence," the Court of Appeals affirmed petitioner's conviction on the ground that petitioner's counsel had "stopped objecting" and that in that circumstance, "the failure to object was waiver." 42 Ala. App., at 329, 332, 163 So. 2d, at 493, 495. The Supreme Court of Alabama denied review, 276 Ala. 703, 163 So. 2d 496. We granted certiorari, 379 U.S. 815. We reverse.

I.

We decide today that the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment is applicable to the States. Pointer v. Texas, ante, p. 400. Our cases construing the clause hold that a primary interest secured by it is the right of cross-examination; an adequate opportunity for cross-examination may satisfy the clause even in the absence of physical confrontation. As the Court said in Mattox v. United States,

"The primary object of the constitutional provision in question was to prevent depositions or ex parte affidavits . . . ...


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