Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Failure of Confrontation: Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama Reverses Burglary Adjudication Based on Bruton Violation
Pursuant to the Bruton doctrine, the Confrontation Clause is violated by the admission at a joint jury trial of a nontestifying co-defendant's confession that facially incriminates another defendant. A textbook application of the doctrine can be found in the recent opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama in C.L.H. v. State, 2012 WL 6554144 (Ala.Crim.App. 2012).In C.L.H., C.L.H. was adjudicated delinquent based on a charge of second-degree burglary. At trial,
To establish that C.L.H. was involved in the burglary, the State presented uncontested evidence that C.L.H. was in a relationship with H.S....The State also offered an out-of-court statement given by A.R. to police. The circuit court admitted the statement over an objection by C.L.H. on the ground that admission of the statement would violate the Confrontation Clause. In his statement, A.R. said:
After her adjudication, C.L.H. appealed, repeating her Confrontation Clause contention. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama agreed with her, finding that A.R.'s statement facially incriminated her based upon the evidence presented at trial that she was the girlfriend of H.S. Moreover, the court found that the erroneous admission of this statement was not harmless because the other evidence admitted at trial was insufficient to sustain her conviction. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.