United States Court of Appeals
Where a state court judge admitted double hearsay against a defendant as substantive evidence to prove the defendants’ guilt, his federal habeas corpus petition should have been granted.
“To think that any amount of instruction would enable a jury to disregard the damning substance of an out-of-court statement like the one at issue here — a lengthy statement setting forth a detailed account of an accomplice’s confession implicating Jones in a particularly heinous crime — and to consider that statement only for some marginally relevant collateral purpose simply defies human nature, particularly if the jury had any doubts about the sufficiency of the other evidence against Jones. Cf. Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 388 (1964) (‘If there are lingering doubts about the sufficiency of the other evidence, does the jury unconsciously lay them to rest by resort to the confession? Will uncertainty about the sufficiency of the other evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt actually result in acquittal … ?’).
“As Justice Cardozo once aptly said, ‘Discrimination so subtle is a feat beyond the compass of ordinary minds. The reverberating clang of those accusatory words would drown all weaker sounds.’ Shepard v. United States, 290 U.S. 96, 104 (1933).”
Reversed and Remanded.
09-3577 Jones v. Basinger
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Young, J., Hamilton, J.