Legal Dictionary Material Witness

A witness who has relevant and important information to share about a court case, usually a witness who has important information that may not be in the possession of others. An important or important witness. A court will generally strive to deliver justice to ensure that an important witness in a case can testify. This has led to controversy for several reasons. Primarily, critics believed that the government`s use of the substantive witness law to detain suspects was a circumvention of the U.S. Constitution`s Fourth Amendment, which provides criminal suspects with some protection that was apparently ignored during arrests of important witnesses after September 11. Second, legal critics have objected to the application of the substantive witness law to grand jury trials. Under the U.S. Code Section 3144, a key witness may be detained if an affidavit shows that the witness` testimony is essential and that “it may become impossible to ensure the presence of the person by subpoena.” For example, Matus-Zayas was charged in United States v. Matus-Zayas of illegal transport and accommodation of foreigners.

Five of the transported foreigners were named as witnesses in the case. The court ruled that it would be impossible to obtain the presence of the physical witnesses by subpoena if they were released in Mexico because the witnesses “were citizens of another country and the subpoena power of the [US] government [in Mexico] would be essentially invalid.” A witness who has information indicating a fact that affects the substance of the case. In general, the information possessed by the important witness has strong probative value, and few, if any, other witnesses have the same information. Because of the importance of the testimony of a key witness, judges usually make every reasonable effort to ensure that these witnesses are available to testify. For example, an extension may be granted if a key witness is not available. An important witness (in U.S. criminal law) is a person whose information is supposed to be important relating to a criminal case. The power to detain important witnesses dates back to the first judicial act of 1789, but the Bail Reform Act of 1984 amended the text of the law and is now codified in 18 U.S.C. § 3144. The latest version allows important witnesses to be detained to obtain testimony in criminal proceedings or before a grand jury. If a party`s affidavit indicates that a person`s testimony is essential in criminal proceedings, and it is shown that it may become impossible to ensure the person`s presence by summons, a bailiff may order the arrest of the person and treat the person in accordance with the provisions of section 3142 of this title.

No key witness may be detained for failing to comply with a condition of release if his or her testimony can be adequately supported by testimony and no further detention is necessary to avoid judicial failure. The release of a key witness may be postponed for a reasonable period of time until the testimony of the witness can be made in accordance with the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure. Since 11. In September 2001, the United States used the Substantive Witness Act to detain suspects indefinitely without charge, often under the guise of obtaining grand jury testimony. This use of the law is controversial and is currently subject to judicial review. In Ashcroft v. al-Kidd (2011), the detainee was never charged or called as a witness and prosecuted the then American. Attorney General John Ashcroft. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling that Ashcroft enjoyed immunity because of his official position. Under a 1984 federal law, prosecutors can apply for an arrest warrant if the testimony of a potential witness is “essential” to the criminal proceedings and the person is likely to abscond. A judge must approve the arrest warrant, and the witness has the right to a hearing and a court-appointed lawyer.

The amount of the bail varies according to the competence and discretion of the judge. Federal law requires authorities to obtain permission from a bailiff to detain a key witness for an extended period of time. The release of a key witness may be postponed for a reasonable period until the testimony at trial or the testimony of the witness can be made in accordance with the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure. 18 Section 3144 of the United States Code, commonly known as the “Material Witness Act”, provides: In 2005, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy proposed a bill to amend the Essential Witness Act to strengthen procedural safeguards and for other purposes, p. 1739, § 1. However, the bill was not introduced after being sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. [4] A 2006 decision stated that the substantive law of witnesses can only be applied if a person is genuinely sought as a witness and there is a risk of absconding; Although there has been much legal debate about the scope of the status of substantive witnesses, it has been clear since the decision of the Ninth Court of Appeals in Bacon v. United States, 449 F.2d 933 (9th Cir. 1971) that the term “criminal trial” in the Substantive Witnesses Act encompasses both (undisputed) trials and grand jury hearings.

Thus, the ability to arrest important witnesses under the law also extends to the ability to arrest those who have briefing materials for a grand jury inquiry (provided that practical impossibility is also proven). The Supreme Court has not had an opportunity to rule on this legal issue. [ref. In 2009, the Ninth Appellate District in San Francisco, California. discovered in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd that former Attorney General John Ashcroft could be personally prosecuted for unlawfully detaining Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen arrested in 2003 and held in maximum security prisons for 16 days to be used as a key witness in the trial of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. Al-Kidd was never charged or called as a witness. (Al-Hussein was acquitted of all charges of supporting terrorism in 2004.) [5] [6] n.

a person who clearly possesses information about the subject matter of the dispute or prosecution that is important enough to influence the outcome of the case or trial.