Supreme Court rules statements made by children to teachers regarding abuse may be used at trial

Supreme Court rules statements made by children to teachers regarding abuse may be used at trial

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] 9-0 that statements made by children to their teachers regarding possible abuse may be used as evidence at trial, even if the child does not testify in court. In Ohio v. Clark [SCOTUSblog materials] the court decided that defendants do not have a constitutional right to cross-examine child witnesses. The only instance in which they have this right is if the child made the statements with the primary intention of creating evidence for the prosecution. But writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the motivation for a teacher’s conversation with a child is to protect them rather than build a case against a suspect:

Mandatory reporting obligations do not convert a conversation between a concerned teacher and her student into a law enforcement mission aimed at gathering evidence for prosecution.

The decision reversed an earlier ruling [opinion, PDF] by the Ohio Supreme Court [official website].

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas wrote concurring opinions, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The court granted certiorari to the case in October and heard oral arguments [JURIST reports] in March.