In its decision in State of Ohio v. Darius Clark, the U.S. Supreme Court cited an amicus curiae brief filed by Munger, Tolles & Olson on behalf of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. The defendant, who had been convicted of child abuse, argued that the testimony of a preschool teacher who had spoken with one of the victims, his girlfriend’s three-year-old son, was impermissible evidence and was used at trial in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser.
On June 19, 2015, the court unanimously rejected this argument, concluding that the child’s statement to his teachers can be used to prosecute his abuser, even though the child was not available to testify at trial. It held that a young child’s statements to his teachers in connection with an ongoing emergency is not “testimonial hearsay” barred by the Confrontation Clause.
The court’s opinion specifically quoted Munger Tolles’ brief, explaining that “[s]tatements by very young children will rarely, if ever, implicate the Confrontation Clause,” because “‘[r]esearch on children’s understanding of the legal system finds that’ young children ‘have little understanding of prosecution.’”
Read the full opinion here.
The Munger Tolles team who filed the brief included Daniel B. Levin, Jeremy A. Lawrence, Kevin L. Brady and Maria Jhai.