Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Maine Rule of Evidence 105 Codifies the Bruton Doctrine
Federal Rule of Evidence 105 provides that
If the court admits evidence that is admissible against a party or for a purpose — but not against another party or for another purpose — the court, on timely request, must restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly.
Maine Rule of Evidence 105 adds a sentence to this "limiting instruction" rule. It states that
If the court admits evidence that is admissible against a party or for a purpose—but not against another party or for another purpose—the court, on timely request, must restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly.
In a criminal case tried to a jury, evidence inadmissible as to one defendant must not be admitted as to other defendants unless all references to the defendant as to whom it is inadmissible have been effectively deleted.
Maine's 2014 Restyling Note to this Rule explains its purpose. That Note states that
The language of the first sentence of Maine Rule 105 is identical to Federal Rule 105. Maine’s second sentence is to implement Maine’s version of the holding in Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 126 (1968), which has been carried over into the restyled Rules.
In Bruton v. United States, the Supreme Court held that, at a joint jury trial, a nontestifying defendant's confession that implicates other defendants is inadmissible under the Confrontation Clause. So, for instance, if Dan confessed to Police Officer Peters, "Carl, Bob, and I robbed the bank at the corner of State and Main," that statement would be inadmissible at the joint jury trial for Dan, Carl, and Bob if Dan doesn't testify...unless all references to Carl and Bob are removed.