Criminal: HAYDON V. COMMONWEALTH (SCOKY; 3/23/2006)

CRIMINAL – Separate Trials; Suppression; Harmless Error Doctrine
DATE:  3/23/2006
SC reversed the convictions of Haydon and Jackson pursuant to their conditional guilty pleas and remanded for further proceedings.  Haydon and Jackson were charged with Attempted Murder, Robbery, and related offenses stemming from a robbery which the Commonwealth alleged that the two men had perpetrated.  During the ensuing investigation, both gave statements to police.  Before trial, Haydon and Jackson filed motions for separate trials, for suppression of their statements, and, in the alternative, for redaction of their co-defendant’s statements for use in trial.  After conducting an evidentiary hearing and allowing counsel to brief the issues, the trial judge denied the motions.  The primary issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred by declining to award separate trials (and to redact the defendant’s statements) because of its conclusion that the statements at issue contained "particularized guarantees of trustworthiness" that made it unnecessary to redact the statements or to hold separate trials.  The majority held that, although the trial court’s reasoning was sound at the time (pursuant to Gabow v. Commonwealth, 34 S.W.3d 63 (Ky. 2000)), the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) compelled reversal.  Specifically, under Crawford, all out of court hearsay statements which are "testimonial" can no longer be admitted against a defendant even if they contain particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.  Therefore, the trial judge should have granted the motions for separate trials and/or the motions for redaction of the co-defendant’s statements.  The majority also rejected the Commonwealth’s argument that the harmless error doctrine saves the day.  The harmless error analysis is appropriate to use only when a trial has actually occurred.

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