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As recent case law demonstrates, both American Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause jurisprudence and Canadian common law relating to hearsay evidence are conceptually problematic. The laws are, at times, internally incoherent and are difficult to justify on the basis of legal principles. This Article critiques confrontation and hearsay law in the United States and Canada, respectively, by exposing the lack of principle underlying each body of law. The Article develops a principled basis for evidence law in general, and hearsay and confrontation law in particular, providing a more stable foundation for hearsay and confrontation frame-works. Ultimately, the Article argues that the epistemic, truth-seeking goal of criminal evidence law is best served by the broad admission, rather than exclusion, of all hearsay evidence. Furthermore, while fairness concerns are relevant to some rules of evidence, there are no valid fairness concerns operating in the context of hearsay and confrontation law that should displace the primary principle of facilitating and promoting epistemically accurate fact-finding in criminal trials. Finally, this Article suggests that any dangers associated with the broad admission of hearsay evidence can be mitigated through effective argument by counsel and appropriate cautions to the trier of fact regarding any weaknesses inherent in the evidence.


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7 Sep 2022
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  • Subject
    • Comparative and Foreign Law

    • Evidence

  • Journal title
    • Boston College International and Comparative Law Review

  • Volume
    • 35

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 395

  • Date submitted

    7 September 2022