In US courts, they’re bound to honor the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment in the constitution, which assures that an accused individual has the right to confront their accuser. That’s at the heart of this case here.
In the lovely and scenic Bronx area, some all around scumbags started a fight over whatever the fuck people in the Bronx fight about. Someone whipped out their piece and started shooting.
Being as dumb as their fucking argument probably was, they didn’t hit the person they were trying to hit, instead they hit a two year old kid, in a car, that was passing by, and fucking killed him.
Nicholas Morris was identified as one of the assholes in question, and upon a search of his home, cops found a .357 hand cannon, a starter pistol, and an empty 9mm shell casing. Pacheco, the deceased two year old boy, was killed by a 9mm. So even though they didn’t find a 9mm weapon on Morris, the casing was deemed evidence enough, and he was charged.
Ronnell Gilliam was also at the scene, and feeling guilty as fuck, decided to drop a dime on Morris, and accused him of being the shooter. But then Gilliam was like, “Alright man, I was just messing around. It was actually Darrell Hemphill who shot the 9mm, and then disposed of it.”
It’s important to know that cops never recovered the gun. Just an empty 9mm cartridge from Morris.
Anyway, after failing to prosecute Morris for the murder, New York went after Hemphill in light of this new evidence.
Hemphill however, is saying that because this new evidence came from testimony by Morris at his own allocution where he confessed to possession of the .357, Hemphill isn’t able to “confront” Morris at trial, and therefore such evidence is inadmissable.
But New York is like, “Hemphill opened the door to this testimony when he threw shade on Morris, arguing he was the one found with a 9mm casing at his place.” The phrase “opened the door” is kinda important here, since New York seems to think the Constitution is optional if in a case like this, someone opens the door to the evidence.
So the court has to decide if Hemphill forfeited his right to confront Morris when he accused Morris based on his confession of possession.
I almost feel sorry for New York, representing counsel tried making an impassioned argument, but ended up coming off like a used car salesperson, and the justices seemed pretty skeptical on some of her responses.
In an 8:1 decision, with only Justice Thomas dissenting, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Hemphill. That the 6th amendment doesn’t get tossed in the shitter just because the defendant makes some argument bringing up said asshole in his allocution. There’s no exceptions to the 6th amendment the court has allowed, and they’re not about to start now.
Justice Thomas, was so disinterested, he dissented on the premise that because Hemphill didn’t bring up his sixth amendment rights in the NY appellate court, that SCOTUS shouldn’t even be listening to this bullshit.
Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.