The Right to Call a Witness Who Admitted He Committed the Crime

In Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 35 L. Ed. 2d 297, 93 S. Ct. 1038 (1973), the trial court applied the hearsay rule to bar the admission of evidence by the defendant in support of his defense that another man, McDonald, admitted that he committed the crimes. 410 U.S. at 287. The Court reversed the decision of the trial court, explaining that "the right of an accused to due process is, in essence, the right to a fair opportunity to defend against state accusations. The right to call witnesses in one's own behalf has long been recognized as essential to due process." Id. at 294. Furthermore, Justice Black has described the right to present evidence in one's own defense as a critical component of our criminal justice system: A person's right to reasonable notice of a charge against him, and an opportunity to be heard in his own defense -- a right to his day in court -- are basic in our system of jurisprudence, and these rights include, as a minimum, a right to examine the witnesses against him, to offer testimony, and to be represented by counsel.