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‘White v. Louisiana’: Flawed Memory and the Confrontation Clause

Bracewell’s Paul Shechtman writes in the New York Law Journal how the White v. Louisiana murder case is already attracting the attention of evidence professors, despite being at the certiorari stage.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to consider White’s petition in October, when it returns to business.

Roderick White was indicted in Louisiana for murder in the January 2015 shooting of NaQuian Robinson. At trial, the principal evidence against White was a videotaped statement given a week after the shooting at the police station by Brandon Coleman. In the statement, Coleman told the police that he, White and “BJ” were driving around Baton Rouge when White spotted Robinson selling CDs. White got out of the car and approached Robinson. Parked nearby, Coleman heard gun shots and saw White firing in Robinson’s direction. White then ran back to the car, and Coleman drove off. Later, White admonished Coleman not to talk to the police.

That is what Coleman said at the police station. At White’s trial, Coleman took the witness stand and declined to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege. (He was facing an accessory-after-the-fact charge.) His testimony, however, was quite limited. On direct examination, he testified that he had suffered a serious brain injury in an accident in September 2015 and could not recall the shooting or his videotaped statement.

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