The Prosecutors’ Resource on Witness Intimidation

This resource outlines effective prosecution strategies for cases where witness intimidation is, or may be, a factor. It provides guidance for prosecution practices that will enhance the safety of victims and witnesses. The paper discusses the first steps a prosecutor should take upon being assigned a case in which witness intimidation is, or may be, an issue. It then discusses strategies for the various phases of a criminal prosecution, from pretrial through the final pretrial conference. Finally, the paper discusses sentencing considerations, including the need for appropriate post-release conditions that enhance the ongoing safety of victims and witnesses.


Ohio v. Clark: A Bit of Confrontation Clarification, A Few Tantalizing Hints

The United States Supreme Court decision in Ohio v. Clark has been heralded by many prosecutors and legal scholars as significantly broadening the admissibility of evidence under the Confrontation Clause, as interpreted by Crawford v. Washington and its progeny. The decision does not break startling new ground, however; rather, the Court’s decision is one that flows more or less naturally from the Court’s previous pronouncements about what it is that makes a hearsay statement testimonial, and therefore inadmissible at trial unless the witness is subject to cross-examination, either at trial or (in the case of a witness unavailable for trial) at a prior proceeding. This article reviews the opinion’s direction and guidance to trial courts (and prosecutors) about the admissibility of statements made to individuals not affiliated with law enforcement, as well as statements made by children or others who may be limited in their ability to grasp the notion of potential future prosecution. The article discusses the importance of the opinion’s deviation from the language used in previous decisions—a distinction that promises to fuel the ongoing debate about the future of Confrontation Clause jurisprudence.


Witness Intimidation – Meeting the Challenge

Witness intimidation can hinder the investigation and prosecution of any criminal case, but it presents predictable challenges in certain categories of crime. Where the defendant has a pre-existing relationship with the victim, or in cases involving gangs or organized crime, the defendant often has the ability, directly or indirectly, to continue to inflict harm upon, or to exercise influence over, the victim or witness long after the precipitating criminal act. This monograph explores the form of witness intimidation, offers strategies to prevent and minimize its effects, suggests trial strategies for cases involving witness intimidation, including the use of forfeiture by wrongdoing as a means of admitting hearsay statements where a defendant has caused a witness’s unavailability for trial.


Field Guide to Witness Intimidation

Witness intimidation affecting the criminal justice system can take many forms and arise in many contexts. Its presence and effects are not always self-evident, either to professionals working in the system or to the witnesses themselves. While overt threats may be easily recognized and categorized, other forms of intimidation may be subtle or disguised, or too easily overlooked in the course of responding to what has been identified as the primary criminal offense. This Field Guide to Witness Intimidation is intended to be a convenient reference to assist professionals in identifying acts of witness intimidation that may affect their work with victims and witnesses vulnerable to such pressures.


It’s About Context, Not Character: Admitting Evidence Under R. 404(b)

Proving a crime of intimate partner violence challenges prosecutors to place the criminal act in the context of the relationship’s dynamic of ongoing power and control, with various forms of abuse that may span years or decades. The fullest possible picture of the relationship better enables the jury to understand the defendant’s motive and intent to inflict harm upon the victim. This can be done through admission of other crimes, wrongs, or acts under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) and equivalent state or tribal evidence rules or statutes. This webinar identifies types of evidence that may be admissible for purposes permitted under the Rule, suggests ways in which admissibility under the Rule can be argued, and discusses important considerations to avoid reversible error on appeal.

This webinar recording should qualify prosecutors for 1 hour of continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Prosecutors are encouraged to contact their state bar association in reference to application requirements and related fees.

Interviewing Victims of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation: Techniques and Tactics

Trafficking victims are difficult to interview for the same reasons they are difficult to identify. Traffickers manipulate, coerce, threaten, and commit acts of violence against victims, which may result in their inability or unwillingness to self-identify, report to law enforcement, or participate in the criminal justice process. Therefore, the ability to expediently and appropriately identify a victim of trafficking or exploitation is crucial, and often can be accomplished only through effective interviewing. This webinar highlights the importance of preparing for an interview by collaborating with community-based service providers and also explores a variety of interview techniques. The presenters discuss tools for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to use when developing their own questions and protocols for interviewing trafficking victims.

This webinar recording should qualify prosecutors for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Prosecutors are encouraged to contact their state bar association in reference to application requirements and related fees.

The Prosecutors’ Resource on Forfeiture by Wrongdoing

Forfeiture by wrongdoing is a longstanding exception to a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him. If a defendant causes a witness to be unavailable for trial through his wrongful acts, with the intention of preventing that witness from testifying, then the introduction of the witness’s prior testimonial statements is not barred by the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This resource will review the origins and requirements of forfeiture by wrongdoing, examine its utility in domestic violence cases, outline trial strategies, and provide a checklist for hearings on forfeiture.