Published: March, 2008| Sandra Tibbetts Murphy, Kristine Lizdas

In this criminal case, Defendant had killed his girlfriend but claimed it was self-defense and, in his trial, sought to exclude statement the girlfriend had made to law enforcement who responded to an earlier domestic assault. The prosecution sought to admit such statements in an effort to rebut the claim of self-defense. Defendant argued that there had been no forfeiture of his right to confront the girlfriend as a witness because he had not killed her with the specific intent of making her unavailable to testify. In this brief, BWJP as amici argued that the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing should not require the court to find a defendant committed an act with the specific intent of keeping a victim from testifying. Rather, BWJP argued that a defendant should forfeit his right to confront a witness against him at trial where his acts make that witness unavailable, regardless of the defendant’s specific intent at the time of wrongful act.