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Davis v. Alaska

Law Dictionary
CASE BRIEFS

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Criminal Procedure keyed to Israel

Citation. Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 94 S. Ct. 1105, 39 L. Ed. 2d 347, 1974 U.S. LEXIS 104 (U.S. Feb. 27, 1974).

Brief Fact Summary. A crucial prosecution witness to in a robbery trial was a juvenile with a record of delinquency. The defendant sought to impeach the witness.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. “[T]he right of confrontation is paramount to the State’s policy of protecting a juvenile offender,” and such a witness may be impeached.


Facts. Petitioner Davis was picked from a line-up by witness Green, identifying Petitioner as one of two persons who had been in the general area where a stolen save was later recovered. Petitioner was tried for robbery. Petitioner’s counsel sought to introduce Green’s juvenile adjudication to show that he was on probation for burglary, and that he acted out of fear of losing his probation. The trial judge refused to admit that evidence. The Alaskan Supreme Court affirmed that decision.

Issue. “[W]hether the Confrontation Clause requires that a defendant in a criminal case be allowed to impeach the credibility of a prosecution witness by cross-examination directed at possible bias deriving the witness’ probationary status as a juvenile delinquent when such impeachment would conflict with a State’s asserted interest in preserving the confidentiality of juvenile adjudications of delinquency.

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