The trial decide’s resolution was to permit the agent to testify in regards to the confession however to omit Mr. Samia’s identify, substituting bland phrases like “one other individual.”
The agent testified, for example, that Mr. Stillwell had “described a time when the opposite individual he was with pulled the set off on that lady in a van that he and Mr. Stillwell was driving.” The decide instructed the jury that the agent’s testimony was “solely admissible as to Mr. Stillwell.”
Kannon Okay. Shanmugam, a lawyer for Mr. Samia, stated that was not adequate.
“The prosecution’s questioning of the agent who took the confession left little doubt that the confessing defendant had named ‘the opposite individual,’” Mr. Shanmugam stated, including that his consumer “was the one defendant who plausibly might have been ‘the opposite individual.’”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. stated that was debatable. “Possibly they’ll marvel,” he stated of the jury, “‘Properly, why are they saying one other individual if it was this man, and it should be as a result of it’s anyone else that they haven’t delivered to trial.’”
Justice Amy Coney Barrett stated the implication of Mr. Shanmugam’s place was excessive.
“On the finish of the day,” she stated, “it boils all the way down to, you simply can’t strive two defendants collectively in case you have a nontestifying defendant and a confession.”
Caroline A. Flynn, a lawyer for the federal authorities, stated the trial decide had made a smart compromise. “Confessions that exchange a defendant’s identify with a natural-sounding noun or pronoun don’t give rise to an amazing likelihood of juror disobedience,” she stated.
Justice Elena Kagan appeared uncertain. She described a hypothetical situation: “John and Mary exit and so they rob Invoice, and so they’re came upon, and so they’re placed on trial, and so they’re placed on trial collectively. And John has confessed. Let’s say he stated, ‘Mary and I went out and robbed Invoice.’”