A teacher's hearsay testimony about abuse accusations was allowed to be presented without cross-examination.
Ohio v. Clark, U.S., No. 13-1352
The teacher's testimony in this child abuse case were allowed because the child's responses to their questions were not seen as "testimonial" under the confrontation framework and cross-examination requirements updated in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004).
Justice Alito stated that "[s]tatements made to someone who is not principally charged with uncovering and prosecuting criminal behavior are significantly less likely to be testimonial than statements given to law enforcement officers." The Court indicated that this was true even when it was a private party who had an obligation to report (because of a statutory obligation) indications of child abuse to law enforcement.
The teacher's aim was to protect the child, and there was "no indication that the primary purpose of the conversation was to gather evidence for Clark's prosecution." The Court went on to say that "[l]ike all good teachers, they undoubtedly would have acted with the same purpose whether or not they had a state-law duty to report abuse."
The Court said that "[M]andatory reporting statutes alone cannot convert a conversation between a concerned teacher and her student into a law enforcement mission aimed primarily at gathering evidence for a prosecution."
The Court stated that they do not adopt a categorical rule because "at least some statements to individuals who are not law enforcement officers could conceivably raise confrontation concerns.... Nevertheless, such statements are much less likely to be testimonial than statements to law enforcement officers."
For now, there is a general rule that statements made to non-law enforcement personnel do not qualify as "testimonial" for purposes of the confrontation clause's cross-examination requirement.