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Video Testimony and the Confrontation Clause

Minn. Court of Appeals: Live Video Testimony Does Not Violate the Confrontation Clause

The Confrontation Clause of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantees those charged with crimes to confront their accusers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many court proceedings have switched from in-person hearings at the courthouse to being conducted via two-way, live, remote video technology (i.e. Zoom).

On January 3, 2022, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion on this issue. State v. Tate, No. A21-0359 (Minn. Ct. App. Jan. 3, 2022). The Court decided that two-way, live remote video technology satisfies necessity and reliability criteria. In other words, allowing witness testimony by Zoom may be necessary during a pandemic and it allows real-time question-and-answer with the ability to read demeanor cues of a witness under oath. Therefore, witness testimony via Zoom still provides for defendants to confront their accusers. However, the Court noted that in-person witness testimony is still preferable.