Monday, September 20, 2010

US Constitution Series, Amendment VI

Amendment VI. Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
This amendment covers various important rights in criminal matters. Most of the rights in the Sixth Amendment have been applied to bind the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, but not all. In 2001, the California Supreme Court held that the requirement for a jury drawn from the district in which the crime occurred was not a right that the states had to adopt. Price v. Superior Court, 25 P.3d 618, 25 Cal. 4th 1046, 108 Cal.Rptr.2d 409 (Cal., 2001). [I note in passing for those who care about such things that the reasoning articulated in the opinion appears to be of the "living Constitution" variety rather than the "original meaning" variety.]

All of these rights in the Sixth Amendment can be waived by the accused, except possibly the right to a public trial (which may belong to the public), although I have not researched that issue.

[The purpose of this series is to give everyone the opportunity to read the Constitution one section and amendment at a time. That gives us the opportunity to think about each section before going on to the next. It is easy to miss important points when one read a legal document too fast. Something as important as the United States Constitution deserves thinking time between each section.]

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