Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mason: Confrontation Clause Error Harmless

In Mason v. Allen, No. 09-12195 (May 11, 2010), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to an Alabama inmate sentenced to death for a 1994 murder.

The Court found that the State committed error when it deprived Mason of the opportunity to cross-examine the informant on whose hearsay testimony it relied at trial. The State also committed error when the prosecutor stated in closing argument at the penalty phase that, “like all of the modern-day criminals,” the defendant intended to write a book – when there was no evidence to support this. However, the errors were harmless. The defendant confessed to the murder. The murder weapon was found in his car.

The Court found that the defendant had defaulted his argument that his confession was coerced.

Stone v. Powell foreclosed his argument that the State courts incorrectly decided his motion to suppress based on a Fourth Amendment violation