White v. Illinois, 502 U.S. 346 (1992)

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certiorari to the appellate court of illinois, fourth district

No. 90-6113. Argued November 5, 1991—Decided January 15, 1992

At petitioner White's trial on charges related to a sexual assault upon S. G., a 4-year-old girl, the trial court ruled that testimony recounting S. G.'s statements describing the crime that was offered by her babysitter, her mother, an investigating officer, an emergency room nurse, and a doctor was admissible under state-law hearsay exceptions for spontaneous declarations and for statements made in the course of securing medical treatment. The trial court also denied White's motion for a mistrial based on S. G.'s presence at trial and failure to testify. White was found guilty by a jury, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed his conviction, rejecting his Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause challenge that was based on Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U. S. 56. The court concluded that this Court's later decision in United States v. Inadi, 475 U. S. 387, foreclosed any rule requiring that, as a necessary antecedent to the introduction of hearsay testimony, the prosecution must either produce the declarant at trial or show that the declarant is unavailable.

Held: The Confrontation Clause does not require that, before a trial court admits testimony under the spontaneous declaration and medical examination exceptions to the hearsay rule, either the prosecution must produce the declarant at trial or the trial court must find that the declarant is unavailable. Pp. 352-358. (a) This Court rejects the argument of the United States as amicus curiae that the Confrontation Clause's limited purpose is to prevent the abusive practice of prosecuting a defendant through the presentation of ex parte affidavits, without the affiants ever being produced at trial, that the only situation in which the Clause would apply to the introduction of out-of-court statements admitted under an accepted hearsay exception would be those few cases where the statement was in the character of such an ex parte affidavit, and that S. G. was not a "witness against" White within the meaning of the Clause because her statements did not fit this description. Such a narrow reading of the Clause, which would virtually eliminate its role in restricting the admission of hearsay testimony, is foreclosed by this Court's decisions, see, e. g., Mattox v. United States, 156 U. S. 237, and comes too late in the day to warrant reexamination. Pp. 352-353.

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