Chapter 5 - §7. Appellate review

JurisdictionUnited States

§7. Appellate review

§7.1. Standard of review. In determining on appeal whether the admission of evidence would violate a defendant's right of confrontation, courts apply an independent or de novo standard of review. See U.S. v. Benamor (9th Cir.2019) 937 F.3d 1182, 1190 (court reviews de novo whether Confrontation Clause violation occurred); People v. Cromer (2001) 24 Cal.4th 889, 901 (independent review "comports with this court's usual practice for review of mixed question determinations affecting constitutional rights"); People v. Sweeney (4th Dist.2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 210, 221 (same); People v. Mays (3d Dist.2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 156, 172 (same); see, e.g., U.S. v. Larson (9th Cir.2007) 495 F.3d 1094, 1101 (finding de novo review is correct standard when assessing whether limitations on cross-examination violated Confrontation Clause).

§7.2. Effect of error. Violations of a defendant's right of confrontation are subject to harmless-error analysis under Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18. People v. Rutterschmidt (2012) 55 Cal.4th 650, 661; People v. Livingston (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1145, 1159; People v. Geier (2007) 41 Cal.4th 555, 608, overruled on other grounds, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 U.S. 305. Under this standard, a California court considering the issue on direct appeal must reverse the judgment of conviction unless it is convinced that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. See Chapman, 386 U.S. at 24; People v. Valencia (2021) 11 Cal.5th 818, 840; Livingston, 53 Cal.4th at 1159; People v. Bell (5th Dist.2020) 47 Cal.App.5th 153, 191. The burden of proving that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt falls on the prosecution. U.S. v. Benamor (9th Cir.2019) 937 F.3d 1182, 1190; U.S. v. Nguyen (9th Cir.2009) 565 F.3d 668, 675; Rutterschmidt, 55 Cal.4th at 661.

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