United States v. Hayat

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 03-12-2013
  • Case #: 07-10457
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judge Schroeder; Dissent by Circuit Judge Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

Exclusion of hearsay statements which may help establish the bias of a witness does not violate the confrontation clause if the facts already on the record were "adequate to develop the issues of bias."

Hamid Hayat (“Hayat”) was convicted of providing material support to terrorists and making false statements to government officials. Hayat sought appeal on various issues, including bias of the jury foreperson and limitation on his cross-examination of the government’s key witness. Hayat’s bias claim against the jury foreperson arises from (1) “alleged racial and religious remarks” made by the foreperson during deliberations; (2) post-trial statements made to the news media; (3) improper communication with an alternate juror; and (4) comments made during deliberation indicating “he had overheard media reports about the trial.” The Ninth Circuit found that taken as a whole, the allegations may demonstrate the jury foreperson was confident in his decision to convict but did not establish he was “determined to convict before the close of evidence” or that he was “actually biased against Hayat on account of race, ethnicity, or religion.” Hayat’s second issue on appeal involved the district court’s denial, during cross examination, of his attorney’s attempt to elicit out-of-court statements from a classified government informant. Hayat argued for the statements inclusion based on the state of mind exception, the rule of completion, and finally the confrontation clause. The panel dismissed the first two arguments and additionally determined that while one of the statements could have been introduced to impeach, the district court did not commit plain error by not recognizing such a basis on its own, when defendant’s attorney did not raise it. The panel held the confrontation clause was satisfied because the facts were “adequate to develop the issues of bias.” Further, the panel held that the excluded statements was not sufficiently reliable to satisfy the standard developed in Chambers v. Mississippi, an exception to exclusion aimed at preventing a due process violation. AFFIRMED

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