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This is also known as the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing.


In Reynolds v. United States, the United States Supreme Court first indicated that certain conduct by a criminal defendant could result in the forfeiture of his Sixth Amendment confrontation protection. 98 U.S. 145, 158-59 (1878). The Court there indicated that although the Constitution grants a defendant a privilege of confrontation, “if he voluntarily keeps the witnesses away, he is in no condition to assert that his constitutional rights have been violated” by the admission of other evidence in “place of that which the defendant has kept away.” Id. at 158. Until the Supreme Court’s recent opinions in Crawford v. Washington and Davis v. Washington, 126 S. Ct. 2266 (2006), Reynolds represented the Court’s only significant statement on the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing. 


The Court first addressed forfeiture in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145 (1879) , where, after hearing testimony that suggested the defendant had kept his wife away from home so that she could not be subpoenaed to testify, the trial court permitted the government to introduce testimony of the defendant’s wife from the defendant’s prior ...

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