Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Bruton Inapplicable to Joint Bench Trial

From Johnson v. Tennis, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 23849 (3d Cir. Nov. 19, 2008):

Do the teachings of Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S. Ct. 1620, 20 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1968), apply to a bench trial in a criminal proceeding? Bruton and its progeny established that in a joint criminal trial before a jury, a defendant's Sixth Amendment right of confrontation is violated by admitting a confession of a non-testifying codefendant that implicates the defendant, regardless of any limiting instruction given to the jury. See id.; Richardson v. Marsh, 481 U.S. 200, 211, 107 S. Ct. 1702, 95 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1987); Cruz v. New York, 481 U.S. 186, 193-194, 107 S. Ct. 1714, 95 L. Ed. 2d 162 (1987). We hold that the Bruton rule is inapplicable to the incriminating confession of a non-testifying codefendant in a joint bench trial. By its own terms, Bruton applies to jury trials only. In so deciding we agree with every United States Court of Appeals that has considered the question. ***

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