April 09, 2020

Court overturns ruling barring man’s testifying

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that courts in one state generally cannot keep someone from testifying in another state’s court, reviving a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against General Motors over a fatal crash.

Ruling unanimously, the justices said the constitutional requirement that state courts honor court judgments in other states does not let a Michigan judge bar a man from testifying in a separate lawsuit in Missouri.

A court in Missouri had ordered GM to pay $11.3 million to the sons of a woman who died in a fiery crash. But a federal appeals court threw out the award because the trial included testimony by a former GM employee who had agreed in a Michigan court settlement not to testify against GM.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision. “Michigan’s power does not reach into a Missouri courtroom to displace the forum’s own determination whether to admit or exclude evidence” in the GM case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote.

In another case, the court considered whether a SWAT team in Oregon went too far when an officer with a search warrant broke into a residence without knocking first.

Several justices said the search-and-seizure case from Boring, Ore., posed questions about how much force police can use and how much danger must exist before they can use no-knock entries.

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