What if the Boy Who Cried Wolf Could Testify under a Pseudonym … as an Expert Witness on Canis Lupus?

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1 Response

  1. JB says:

    Thanks for the post on this important case. It is not a normal thing in American courts for a witness to testify under a pseudonym and this case should get the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court (although whether it does is another matter). Reading the opinion, it seems the Fifth Circuit makes a critical move in interpreting the Court’s few precedents in the area. As you note, the Fifth Circuit distinguishes a case that seems very much on point, Smith v. Illinois, and relies on another case Roviaro for the principle that disclosure of a witness’s identity comes down to a discretionary balance of “the public interest in protecting the flow of information against the individual’s right to prepare his defense.” But imagine the possibilities if the identity of a testifying witness can truly be kept secret whenever the “public interest” so requires (cue Scalian outrage . . . .). And, interestingly, Smith specifically says that Roviaro (and presumably its amorphous balancing test) is not “relevant” where, as in this case, “the informer [is] a witness for the prosecution.”