April 17, 2001 (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that bars California prosecutors from using anonymous witnesses.
The high court refused to hear an appeal of a state Supreme Court decision that defense lawyers must be given the names of all prosecution witnesses during trial. The state court ruled in the case of two young men charged with a gang-related stabbing in Los Angeles, although the justices said that defense lawyer can be ordered to withhold witnesses’ names from their clients.
Prosecutors say that witnesses, especially in gang cases, are so vulnerable to intimidation and retaliation that their identities must be protected. But defense lawyers argue that they must no who they are dealing with in order to find out if they might have a motive for lying.