Confession(s) To Make: Florida Court Orders Separate Trials Of Former Football Players Based Upon Bruton Issues
In Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), the Supreme Court held that when there is a joint trial of a defendant and a co-defendant, the admission into evidence of the non-testifying co-defendant’s out-of-court confession violates the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment if the confession incriminates the other defendant. This so-called "Bruton doctrine" explains why former high school football players in Bradenton, Florida were informed on Friday that they will have separate murder trials.
I remember in 1980 appearing with 11 other defense counsels and eight accused for a joint Article 32, UCMJ, hearing. Ultimately each of the cases was dealt with individually through dismissal of charges, PTA’s, trials.
I’m sure there have been some other joint Article 32, UCMJ, hearings. But, I think correctly, you aren’t going to see many if any joint trials. The piece by Professor Colin Miller indicates one of the problems often found in joint trials.