Should Teachers Be Considered Cops?
Getty Images By: Christopher Furlong
I read an interesting article today in The Daily Caller: It asked if teachers are cops.
In reading the article, I found out that the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday asking that exact question.
According to The Daily Caller, the case, Ohio v. Clark, arises from a 2010 criminal incident in Cleveland, Ohio.
“A 3-year-old preschooler, identified only by the initials L.P., was asked by his teacher, Ramona Whitley, why his left eye was bloodied," The Daily Caller reported. "He replied by placing the blame with his mother’s boyfriend, Darius Clark. Whitley reported the alleged abuse, leading to Clark’s subsequent arrest and conviction on felony assault and child endangerment charges.”
Clark, the boyfriend, now faces approximately 30 years in prison and has sued to have his conviction overturned on the grounds that it was based on inadmissible testimony, according to The Daily Caller.
The 3-year-old boy was found to be too young to testify in court, The Daily Caller stated, so Clark’s attorneys are making the argument that his statements to the teacher were key pieces of evidence for the conviction; those statements, his attorneys argue, should be inadmissible due to the Sixth Amendment right to confront one’s accusers.
According to the pleadings of the Clark's attorneys, it apparently is based on current Supreme Court precedent that “holds that any evidence of a 'testimonial' nature (that is, statements made to law enforcement conducting an investigation) are inadmissible at trial unless the defense is given the opportunity for cross-examination,” the article stated.
Clark's attorneys said the teacher should be considered an agent of law enforcement rather than an ordinary witness; the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with Clark's attorneys and overturned his conviction, which has led us to the case reaching the Supreme Court, The Daily Caller reported.
Clark's attorneys say that when Whitley asked L.P. why his eye was bloody, she was actually gathering evidence just as police would.
The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could and most probably will be wide ranging for the other 49 states.
Why might you ask?
According to the article “Such mandatory-reporting laws for teachers exist in all 50 states, meaning that the Supreme Court’s ruling will have truly national implications.” Then the article went on to point out the following “In some states, the stakes are even higher, because mandatory reporting for child abuse extends to all adults. That means, in theory, that any adult who questions a child about possible abuse could be deemed an agent of law enforcement, whose testimony can’t be admitted unless the child is subjected to cross-examination.”
How might the court rule? Well let’s look at some statements made by justices on the court”
Antonin Scalia wrote in a previous case, Crawford v. Washington, “Dispensing with confrontation because testimony is obviously reliable is akin to dispensing with jury trial because a defendant is obviously guilty”.
Justice Samuel Alito is quoted as saying, “The teacher isn’t saying anything about gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution,” and “The teacher is concerned about the safety of this child, period.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg raised similar concerns, saying that a teacher asking about abuse would be primarily concerned with a child’s immediate safety rather than the collection of evidence to report.
I tend to lean toward the teacher not being a cop — I think that the teacher was only worried about the safety of the child.
If the mother or father of the child do not report this abuse, then who will?
If someone does, could their testimony then not be used in court?
What are your thoughts on this issue?
Should teachers be consider police officers in these cases?
Let’s discuss this today on my show the Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.
Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.