Thursday, April 15, 2010

Breaking CCA Case Regarding Crawford's Application to Sentencing

Stringer v. State, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. Crim. App. 2010) Delivered April 14, 2010 (Designated for publication).

Question Presented:  Whether the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause and the Supreme Court holding in Crawford v. Washington were violated when the trial court in assessing punishment considered statements regarding an unadjudicated felony where those declarants were unavailable for cross examination and the Appellant had no prior opportunity to question them?

[W]hen a PSI is used in a non-capital case in which the defendant has elected to have the judge determine sentencing, Crawford does not apply. For us to conclude in Appellant’s favor would require a trial judge to hold a mini-trial for sentencing and would thwart the purpose of the PSI as a tool for the court to use in determining punishment. This holding is limited to a sentencing hearing in which the judge assesses punishment. We need not address here whether Crawford applies when a jury determines the sentence in a non-capital case.