Brooklyn Law Review


Defendants have constitutional rights to cross-examine witnesses and to represent themselves. But when these rights are combined, they can have devastating effects on crime victims. All too often, defendants use the rights in a last-ditch effort to harass, bully, and intimidate the crime’s victims, sometimes leading to a dismissal of charges altogether, as victims withdraw their testimony to avoid personal cross-examination by the defendant. It does not have to be this way. Numerous courts have allowed standby counsel to conduct cross-examination of the victim within constitutional constraints. This article explores the limitations courts have imposed on pro se cross-examination to protect victims from harassment and retraumatization.