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The general purpose of the paper is for you to increase your understanding of the dynamics between the U.S. Supreme Court and state courts of last resort addressing a constitutional issue. In the paper, you will discuss a constitutional issue resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court using the federal Bill of Rights and subsequent decisions by two state courts of last resort on the same issue in which claims under the state declarations of rights were made. In the three decisions, courts are dealing with the right to confront witnesses when the witness is a child who is testifying against a defendant who has been charged with sexually abusing the child. In your paper, you are to discuss, compare and contrast the decisions reached by each of these courts and reach conclusions on the role of state courts in protecting individual rights. One of the decisions is a U.S. Supreme Court decision and two of the decisions are state court decisions decided after the Supreme Court decision (so think, what can the state courts do when addressing constitutional claims in this situation?). Your discussion of the decisions must address the following:
The central facts of case (i.e., what facts are essential to know to understand the constitutional question the court is addressing).
The constitutional question the court is addressing.
How the court answered this constitutional question.
The reason the court gave for reaching this decision.
The importance of this case with regard to state or federal constitutional law.
Even though the discussion of the cases is important, your paper should be written as an academic paper (introduction, thesis statement, supporting paragraphs, and conclusion) and should not be in case brief format. Also, you should always keep in mind that the focus of your paper is the right to confront witness in child sexual abuse cases and the scope of that right under federal constitutional law and under the declarations of rights of two states, and you are using the court decisions to support your discussion of that topic. With regard to the two state court decisions, you should be sure to include in your paper 1) the exact language of the state constitution being used to resolve the issue by the state courts and how it differs, if at all from the federal provision used by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision (you may have to find this if it is not quoted in the decision); 2) a discussion of how the state supreme courts used the state constitution to resolve the issue (e.g., what approach did it take, if any — e.g., lockstep, etc.? How did each court determine the meaning of the constitutional provision used (i.e., what were the legal factors used)? Did the state courts follow or reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s analysis? Why or why not? etc.); and 3) what this exercise tells you about the role of state supreme courts in protecting constitutional rights under their declarations of rights.
The three decisions that you will use for your paper are Maryland v. Craig (1990), Pennsylvania v. Ludwig (1991) and Ohio v. Self (1990)