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Forfeiture by Wrongdoing: A Successful Prosecution  

Author:  Shannon Archer.

Source: Volume 24, Number 03, February/March 2019 , pp.39-41(3)

Domestic Violence Report

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Shannon Archer is a prosecuting attorney with the Polk County Attorney, Des Moines Iowa. In this article, Archer describes the prosecution of a serious domestic assault in which the victim was too terrified to testify against her partner, and so the prosecution team tried the case using an evidence-based strategy. These cases are difficult to try, especially in light of the restrictions established by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Washington, which held that out-of-court testimonial statements of an unavailable witness (such as a victim who is reluctant to appear in court) are not admissible unless the defendant was given a prior opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The key to a successful prosecution in this case hinged on the doctrine of “forfeiture by wrongdoing,” a concept adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court and applied in the case here.

Keywords: “Forfeiture by wrongdoing” principle; State v. Hallam

Affiliations:  1: Assistant County Attorney, Polk County, Iowa.

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