Sunday, December 22, 2013

California v. Green case brief

California v. Green case brief summary
399 U.S. 149 (1970)

Petitioner, State of California, sought review of a judgment of the Supreme Court of California, which held that Cal. Evid. Code § 1235 (1966) was unconstitutional insofar as § 1235 permitted the substantive use of prior inconsistent statements of a witness, even though the statements were subject to cross-examination at a prior hearing.

Respondent was charged with furnishing marihuana to a minor in violation of California law. Petitioner's principal witness against respondent testified at the preliminary hearing and was subjected to extensive cross-examination by respondent's counsel. At respondent's bench trial, the testimony of petitioner's witness was inconsistent with his testimony at the prior hearing. Petitioner admitted excerpts from the witness' preliminary hearing testimony under Cal. Evid. Code § 1235 (1966), citing the truth of the matter contained in the excerpts. The state supreme court ultimately held that use of the witness' prior inconsistent statements denied respondent the right of confrontation under U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI even though the statements were subject to cross-examination at the preliminary hearing.


  • The court vacated and remanded. 
  • Admitting a declarant's out-of-court statements, as long as the declarant was testifying as a witness and was subject to cross-examination, did not violate U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI. 
  • State or federal evidence rules could restrict resort to prior sworn testimony where the declarant was present at trial, but the restriction would not be as a constitutional matter.

The judgment was vacated and remanded. The court concluded that because the declarant was testifying as a witness and subject to full and effective cross-examination, admitting his out-of-court statements did not violate the Sixth Amendment.

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