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Davis v. Alaska

The Facts Of The Case, The Majority Decision, The Dissent, Impact, Separate Rights For Juveniles?


Joshaway Davis


State of Alaska

Petitioner's Claim

By being prohibited from cross-examining a prosecution witness regarding the witness's status as a juvenile offender (under a state law protecting the anonymity of juvenile offenders), petitioner was denied his right to confront witnesses under the Sixth (and Fourteenth) Amendments.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Robert H. Wagstaff

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Charles M. Merriner

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Potter Stewart

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

27 February 1974


A defendant's right to confront and cross-examine witnesses outweighs a state's interest in protecting the anonymity of a juvenile offender when the juvenile is a witness for the prosecution in a criminal case.


Further reinforces the importance of Sixth Amendment protections for criminal defendants.

Related Cases

  • Alford v. United States, 282 U.S. 687 (1931).
  • Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400 (1965).
  • Olden v. Kentucky, 488 U.S. 227 (1988).
  • Idaho v. Wright, 497 U.S. 805 (1990).


Levy, Leonard W. ed. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
  • Price, Jason M. "Sex, Lies, and Rape Shield Statutes: The Constitutionality of Interpreting Rape Shield Statutes to Exclude Evidence Relating to the Victim's Motive to Fabricate." Western New England Law Review, Vol. 18, no. 541, 1996.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980