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Report No. 198

(C) We may now refer to two cases decided by the Supreme Court where once again the absolute right to confrontation was reiterated.

(i) In California v. Green (1970) 399 US 149, the Supreme Court traced the history of the confrontation clause in the Sixth Amendment to the famous English case relating to the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh. The Supreme Court said:

"A famous example is provided by the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh for treason in 1603. A crucial element of the evidence against him consisted of the statement of one Cobham, implicating Raleigh in a plot to seize the throne. Raleigh had since received a written retraction from Cobham and believed that Cobham would now testify in his favour. After a lengthy dispute over Raleigh's right to have Cobham called as a witness, Cobham was not called, and Raleigh was convicted... At least one author traces the Confrontation Clause to the common law reaction against the abuses of the Raleigh trial. (See F. Helle.- the Sixth Amendment, p 104 (1951)."

(ii) In Davis v. Alaska (1974) 415 US 308 it was held that restrictions on cross-examination were unconstitutional even if they did not cause prejudice. In the same case, the Supreme Court referred to the importance of confrontation and cross-examination for the purpose of knowing the bias of crucial identification witness.



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