Monday, June 27, 2005

Joint trial for snitching co-defendants virtually dead in California

If you have a trial coming up in California where there are multiple co-defendants who made statements to police implicating one another YOU MUST move for a severance. After People v. Pena, full text below, the People can almost never use the statements of one co-defendant implicating another in evidence against the other under any circumstances.

This means that severance is almost guaranteed if the prosecution wants to use the statements of one co-defendant that implicate he, himself in the trial against that speaking co-defendant. If they want to use it, they cannot "sanitize" it under Aranda. Do not allow prosecutors to argue this situation is governed by Aranda, Bruton, or any other case.

The statement of the co-defendant to police implicating your client is testimonial hearsay, pure and simple, and is not admissible against your client in his trial. Further if they want to try your client and the co-defendant together, they cannot use the statement of either against the other in any trial. Get your severance on the grounds that they cannot use the others' statement in evidence against him with your client present in a joint trial, then argue that they cannot use the others' statement at all in evidence against your client under Crawford.

Full case:

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H023394.DOC

or PDF

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H023394.PDF

Chip Venie is a private criminal defense attorney in San Diego, California. He is admitted to practice before state and federal courts in California, Washington, D.C., and Michigan. Mr. Venie graduated from The University of Virginia School of Law and clerked as a staff Attorney to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Venie has litigated over 700 trial level felony matters and over 150 appeals. Mr. Venie can be reached at (619) 235-8300, or chipesq@hotmail.com.

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