Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kansas v. Ventris case brief

Kansas v. Ventris case brief summary
129 S. Ct. 1841 (2009)

A jury convicted defendant of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed his conviction holding that the use of an informant who had been planted in respondent's cell to contradict defendant's testimony violated U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI. Petitioner State of Kansas's petition for certiorari was granted.

Defendant and a co-defendant were charged with murder and other crimes. Prior to trial, an informant planted in defendant's cell heard him admit to shooting and robbing the victim, but defendant testified at trial that his co-defendant committed the crimes. When the State sought to call the informant to testify to his contradictory statement, defendant objected. The State conceded that defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel had likely been violated, but argued that the statement was admissible for impeachment purposes. The trial court allowed the testimony.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court held the interests safeguarded by such exclusion were outweighed by the need to prevent perjury and to assure the integrity of the trial process. 
  • The Court had held in every other context that tainted evidence--evidence whose very introduction did not constitute the constitutional violation, but whose obtaining was constitutionally invalid--was admissible for impeachment. 
  • Therefore, the Court held that the informant's testimony, concededly elicited in violation of the Sixth Amendment, was admissible to challenge defendant's inconsistent testimony at trial.


The judgment of the Kansas Supreme Court was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion. 7-2 Decision; 1 Dissent.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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