Oral argument: Oct. 5, 2010
Appealed from: Michigan Supreme Court (June 10, 2009)
EVIDENCE, SIXTH AMENDMENT, CONFRONTATION CLAUSE, TESTIMONIAL
As Anthony Covington lay on the ground injured from a gunshot wound, he provided police officers on the scene with a description of his alleged shooter, before dying a few hours later. The police arrested the suspected shooter, Richard Bryant, based on Covington’s statements, and Bryant was subsequently convicted of second-degree murder after the Michigan trial court admitted Covington’s statements into evidence. Bryant claims that the admission of Covington’s statements violated his right to cross-examine an opposing witness, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. The State of Michigan argues that Covington’s statements were obtained during the police’s response to an “ongoing emergency” and that its admission did not violate the Confrontation Clause. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will likely offer further guidance on what statements are “nontestimonial” under its landmark decisions in Crawford v. Washington and Davis v. Washington, which redefined the ambit of the Confrontation Clause.