Here's an excerpt of Florida's codification of the common law rule on witness sequestration:
a criminal case, the victim of the crime, the victim’s next of kin, the parent or guardian of a minor child victim, or a lawful representative of such person, unless, upon motion, the court determines such person’s presence to be prejudicial.
|Degas, Zacherie Zacharian,1886|
In Federal criminal trials the Assistant United States Attorney trying a case selects a Government "case agent" who sits with the prosecutor throughout the entire trial, listening to all of the evidence, then testifies.
Here is a recent email received from a fellow lawyer and budding socialist, Steven Kalar, Senior Litigator, Federal Defender's Office, San Francisco:
Comrades: It is an aggravating thing, to have the government's key witness sit through a trial, watch all of your crosses, and adapt his or her testimony in response. That's what happens when a government witness is designated as a "case agent"-- a regrettable exception to the sequestration procedures in Federal Rule of Evidence 615. The case of Valencia-Riascos illustrates this unfair government gambit. U. S. v. Valencia-Riascos (9th Cir. Oct.11, 2012). In Valencia-Riascos, the "case agent" was an ICE Agent named Miller. Miller was the only witness to an assault alleged against the defendant. Agent Miller was not only allowed to sit and watch the entire trial, but was also allowed to testify last (after hearing all the crosses). The district judge even refused to give the (relatively standard) cautionary instruction about law enforcement witnesses.
Assistant Federal Defender Rebecca Pennell went after the sequestration rulings under Federal Rule 615, alleging a due process violation... Judge Graber, unfortunately, was unpersuaded in all respects (though she threw us a little helpful scrap of dicta at the end of the case).Although this California opinion is not binding in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, the Courts in Florida follow a similar rule allowing government case agents to avoid the rule of sequestration. Your Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer agrees that fair trials in Florida Courts require fair rules of criminal procedure, shouldn't Federal Courts require case agents to either testify before hearing all the evidence or leave the courtroom like other witnesses?