United States v. Macias

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 06-15-2015
  • Case #: 13-50211
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Benavides for the Court; Circuit Judges Wardlow and Clifton; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge Wardlow
  • Full Text Opinion

The Confrontation Clause forbids the admission of testimonial statements of witnesses who did not appear at trial, unless the witness was unavailable and the defendant had a chance to cross-examine the witness.

Juan Macias was arrested for illegal re-entry into the United States. While being questioned, he told boarder patrol agents that he was born in Riverside, California, claiming he had a United States birth certificate. At trial, Macias produced a “delayed registration of birth,” which said that he was born in Riverside, California. After an investigation that determined that the delayed registration was invalid, two patrol agents corrected the registration. At trial however, the two patrol agents did not testify to the affidavit for the amended delayed registration when it was introduced as evidence, but the government instead produced documents in which both Macias and his parents had stated that Macias was not a United States citizen. Even still, Macias was convicted for illegal re-entry and false claim of citizenship. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit analyzed the conviction under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. The clause forbids the testimony of a witness who did not appear at trial, unless the witness was unavailable and the defense had time to cross-examine the witness. The panel held that the admission of the affidavit signed by the patrol agents was a violation of Macias’s Sixth Amendment right, given that the government failed to call the witnesses to testify. However, the admission did not affect the outcome of the trial. The panel held that Macias failed to show multiple errors that were needed to win a claim of cumulative error. AFFIRMED.

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