Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Constitutionality of Cross-Dressing in Court

An interesting story from the Democrat and Chronicle, our local newspaper — Male witness dressed as woman throws wrinkle into manslaughter case. An excerpt:
    When a man identified as a key witness in the 2009 criminal case against Sandra Arena showed up to court, he was not dressed as a man.

    Instead, he came as a woman, used a woman’s name, and insisted on being called “ma’am” during questioning.

    Now, an appeal for Arena, who killed a man when she drove her car into a crowd outside a city bar, contends that the witness’ choice of attire constituted a disguise. And, that disguise, the appeal maintains, violated a constitutional guarantee a defendant has to confront witnesses. That guarantee is encapsulated in what is known as the constitutional “confrontation clause.”

    “In this case, a key witness for the prosecution — a biological man — testified as a full-fledged woman,” appellate attorney Joseph Waldorf argued in court papers. When asked for his age during testimony, the witness answered that one should never “ask a lady her age.”

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