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The Crawford Debacle


First a toast—to my colleague Jeff Fisher and his Crawford compatriot, Richard Friedman, on the tenth anniversary of their triumph: What they achieved in Crawford is every lawyer’s dream. By dint of sheer vision and lawyerly craft, they toppled what many saw as a flawed confrontation-law regime and put in its place one that promised greater justice. For that, much applause is due. Still there’s no denying their doctrine’s a muddle, if not as conceived, then as realized. Consider the count: Four justices almost agree on Crawford’s contours but patch over the issues that divide them. A fifth justice defends the doctrine but scrimps on its scope. And the other four seek every chance to slip this listing ship and swim to dry land. After ten years and eight major rulings and mounting confusion on the Court, it’s time to reset and reassess: How might we have avoided this mess?