RESPONDENT: New York
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division
DOCKET NO.: 85-5939
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: New York Court of Appeals
CITATION: 481 US 186 (1987)
ARGUED: Dec 01, 1986
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1987
Peter D. Coddington - on behalf of the respondent
Robert S. Dean - on behalf of the petitioner
Robert H. Klonoff - as amicus curiae, supporting respondent
Facts of the case
Media for Cruz v. New YorkAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 01, 1986 in Cruz v. New York
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 21, 1987 in Cruz v. New York
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinions of the Court in two cases No. 85-1433, Richardson against Marsh, No. 85-5939, Cruz against New York will be announced by Justice Scalia.
Cruz versus in New York comes to us from the New York Court of Appeals.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to cross-examine the witnesses against him.
In Bruton versus United States, we held that that guarantee is violated when in a joint trial, the incriminating confession of a non testifying codefendant is introduced even if the jury is instructed to consider that confession only against the codefendant.
Later in Parker versus Randolph, the eight members of the Court participating in the case divided evenly on the question whether Bruton applies where the defendant's own confession corroborating that if his codefendant is introduced against him.
We revisited that question in this case.
Here, the petitioner Eulogio Cruz was tried jointly with his brother Benjamin for the murder of a gas station attendant.
At their trial, the prosecution introduced Benjamin's videotape confession in which he implicated his brother in the crime.
The prosecution also called a friend of the Cruz brothers who recounted a conversation with them in which they both confessed to murdering the attendant.
Both brothers were convicted and the New York Court of Appeals affirmed Eulogio's conviction adopting the reasoning of the plurality opinion in Parker that the introduction of Benjamin's confession did not violate Bruton because Eulogio had himself confessed and his confession interlocked with that of his brother.
In an opinion filed today, we reverse the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings.
We adopt the view of the four dissenting justices in Parker at the existence of the defendant's interlocking confession makes no difference to the application of the Bruton rule.
We make clear however that the defendant's confession maybe considered at trial in accessing whether his codefendant's statements are sufficiently reliable to be directly admissible against him despite his lack of opportunity for cross-examination, and we also explained that the defendant's confession maybe considered on appeal in assessing whether any Confrontation Clause violation was harmless.
Justice White has files the deciding opinion which is joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Powell and O'Conner.