U.K.: cross-examination before jury deemed too hard on vulnerable witnesses

New court reforms proposed by the U.K.’s Ministry of Justice would do away with many criminal defendants’ right to cross-examine accusers before a jury. The rules provide that what are deemed “vulnerable” victims and witnesses, mostly in sex cases, will instead be allowed to undergo cross-examination recorded in advance for later play in court. [BBC] Here in the U.S., the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause might have a thing or two to say about that.


  • We could shorten the Campaign season if thr candidates could be cross examined under oath on live TV.

    • And if a particular candidate is shown to have lied, the DOJ will prosecute, right? Fifty percent chance of that.

  • This is a variation on the precautionary principle. If the victim of a crime might suffer additional harm from being required to testify against the accused, then the accused should not be able to cross examine the victim.

    • The precautionary principle applies in the other direction, though. If you are proposing a change in the rules to reduce the protections of the accused, the burden falls on you to show that this won’t result in the violation of the rights of the accused. Putting the wrong person in prison for a few decades is much worse than making a vulnerable person testify for an hour.

      But the weird part here is that the victim IS being cross-examined – just not in front of the jury. I have to say I’m a bit skeptical of how that helps the victim, but I’m also not sure how that significantly affects the rights of the accused – after all, they do still get to cross-examine. Is there a right to have the jury in the room while it’s going on?

    • And if the accused is deemed ‘vulnerable’ because they might suffer upset during cross, then they can answer only easy questions posed by their defense counsel.