Screen Blocking Witness From Defendant Held Unconstitutional

1988

In Coy v. Iowa, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause was violated when two 13-year-old witnesses in a child sexual abuse case were allowed to testify against the defendant behind a screen so they would not have to see the defendant. The defendant was able to hear their testimony and see the girls dimly. The Court leaves open the possibility that such a screen would be allowable when a child witness was likely to experience trauma if forced to testify in open court.