Editing Extrajudicial Statement of a Codefendant
In People v. Fletcher (1996) 13 Cal. 4th 451 [53 Cal. Rptr. 2d 572, 917 P.2d 187], our Supreme Court considered a question left open by Richardson v. Marsh (1987)--whether it is sufficient to avoid violation of the confrontation clause to edit a codefendant's extrajudicial statement by replacing references to the nondeclarant's name with pronouns or similar neutral and nonidentifying devices.
The court concluded that "the efficacy of this form of editing must be determined on a case-by-case basis in light of the other evidence that has been or is likely to be presented at the trial.
The editing will be deemed insufficient to avoid a confrontation violation if, despite the editing, reasonable jurors could not avoid drawing the inference that the defendant was the coparticipant designated in the confession by symbol or neutral pronoun." (13 Cal. 4th at p. 456.)
In People v. Fletcher, supra, 13 Cal. 4th 451: "When the prosecution proposes to redact one defendant's confession to substitute pronouns or similar neutral terms for the name of a codefendant, the 'contextual implication' approach provides a practical accommodation of the competing interests at stake--the non-declarant's constitutionally protected rights under the confrontation clause and the interests of the state in the fair and efficient administration of the criminal justice system.
We hold, therefore, that editing a nontestifying codefendant's extrajudicial statement to substitute pronouns or similar neutral terms for the defendant's name will not invariably be sufficient to avoid violation of the defendant's Sixth Amendment confrontation rights. Rather, the sufficiency of this form of editing must be determined on a case-by-case basis in light of the statement as a whole and the other evidence presented at trial." (Id. at p. 468.)