No serious student of the adversary system can ignore the grave threat to the integrity of the American witness process posed by this nation’s material witness statutes. These outmoded laws, some dating back to the territorial period of a state’s history, are not invoked in every case, perhaps not even routinely, but when dusted off and put into operation, these archaic statutes result in innocent citizens spending weeks – even months – in custody. To remedy such injustices the authors, after examining cases decided and legislation adopted during the last ten years, will propose a model material witness law that would ameliorate the harshness of many statutes now on the books and strike a balance between the need for courtroom testimony and the individual liberty of citizens.
Ronald L. Carlson and Mark S. Voelpel,
Material Witness and Material Injustice
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/626