In the Supremes

The court granted a writ of certiorari today in Vasquez v. United States.

Here is a link to the decision at the Seventh.

Here is a link to the petition.  (Not posted on SCOTUSBlog yet).

Here is an interesting lead to the Introduction:

This is a case where a federal Circuit Court of Appeals found that the erroneous admission, for the truth of the matter asserted, of trial counsel’s out-of-court statement that his client was guilty was harmless.

Here are the issues: 

1) Did the Seventh Circuit violate this Court’s precedent on harmless error when it focused its harmless error analysis solely on the weight of the untainted evidence without considering the potential effect of the error (the erroneous admission of trial counsel’s statements that his client would lose the case and should plead guilty for their truth) on this jury at all? 2) Did the Seventh Circuit violate Mr. Vasquez’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial by determining that Mr. Vasquez should have been convicted without considering the effects of the district court’s error on the jury that heard the case?

From the brief in opposition:

Although the court of appeals rejected most of petitioner’s arguments, it agreed with petitioner that the district court had improperly admitted the [phone] recordings for their truth. The court concluded, however, that the error was harmless. . .

In the phone recording between the witness who testified and her co-accused husband, Perez, she apparently said to her husband that (from the petition):

Vasquez’s lawyer told her that if they went to trial, “everybody is going to lose.”  These statements were explicitly admitted for their truth.  The attorney who addressed the jury in closing was the very same attorney who the jury was told had instructed Mr. Vasquez to pled guilty and had stated that Mr. Vasquez would lose at trial.

From the opposition:

Petitioner contends that the court of appeals applied the wrong standard for harmless-error review in upholding his conviction and that its decision implicates a circuit conflict on whether the impact of an error on the jury, as well as the strength of the government’s evidence, is relevant to harmless-error analysis.

What is the test for HBRD?

h/t SCOTUSBlog.

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