Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Childers: Evidentiary rule subsumed Confrontation Clause

In Childers v. Floyd, No. 08-15590 (Nov. 14, 2013) (en banc) (per curiam), the Court, on remand from the Supreme Court for further consideration in light of Johnson v. Williams, held that, even though a prior Florida state court appellate decision had not expressly addressed Childers’s claim that limitations on cross-examination of a state witness violated his Confrontation Clause rights, Childers had not rebutted the presumption that the state appellate court adjudicated Childers’s Confrontation Clause claim on the merits. The Court noted that although the state appellate court decision “analyzed Childers’s claim under only the Florida rules of evidence, the underpinnings of these rules fit hand in glove with the rights guaranteed under the Confrontation Clause.” The underpinnings were the same because the Florida rule of evidence “gave Childers the same right of confrontation he enjoyed under the Confrontation Clause – the right to expose a witness’s motivation in testifying.” In limiting cross-examination, the trial judge balanced this right against the “danger of unfair prejudice” – a limitation which the Confrontation Clause also recognizes. [Dissenting, Judge Wilson stated that Florida’s evidentiary rule is less protective of the right of cross-examination than the Confrontation Clause].