Davis v. Alaska - 415 U.S. 308 (1974)


U.S. Supreme Court

Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 (1974)

Davis v. Alaska

No. 72-5794

Argued December 12, 1973

Decided February 27, 1974

415 U.S. 308

Syllabus

Petitioner was convicted of grand larceny and burglary following a trial in which the trial court, on motion of the prosecution, issued a protective order prohibiting questioning Green, a key prosecution witness, concerning Green's adjudication as a juvenile delinquent relating to a burglary and his probation status at the time of the events as to which he was to testify. The trial court's order was based on state provisions protecting the anonymity of juvenile offenders. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: Petitioner was denied his right of confrontation of witnesses under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 415 U. S. 315-321.

(a) The defense was entitled to attempt to show that Green was biased because of his vulnerable status as a probationer and his concern that he might be a suspect in the burglary charged against petitioner, and limiting the cross-examination of Green precluded the defense from showing his possible bias. Pp. 415 U. S. 315-318.

(b) Petitioner's right of confrontation is paramount to the State's policy of protecting juvenile offenders, and any temporary embarrassment to Green by disclosure of his juvenile court record and probation status is outweighed by petitioner's right effectively to cross-examine a witness. Pp. 415 U. S. 319-320.

499 P.2d 1025, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a concurring statement, post, p. 415 U. S. 321. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 415 U. S. 321.

Page 415 U. S. 309



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