Tuesday, March 25, 2014

KYSC - Hacker- opening-the-door, hearsay, and confrontation

Ray Hacker v. Commonwealth, KSC 2012-SC-000269-MR, 3/20/14, Not to be Published. Reversed and remanded 

On trial for murdering his girlfriend, Hacker testified he was on probation for being a felon in possession of a handgun. On cross the Commonwealth asked about details of his arrest and read the report which described Hacker as belligerent and screaming profanities and provided evidence he owned guns and had threatened his girlfriend’s life.

The Court rejected the argument that Hacker "opened the door" to impeachment, noting it was the Commonwealth, not the defense, who "opened the door" by asking Hacker to relay his version of events on cross-examination and then using the report to impeach him. The report conveyed impermissible hearsay and violated the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. 

Brian Barker preserved the issue at trial. Erin Yang won the appeal.

Contributed by Susan Balliet