Introduction of Hearsay Evidence in California

Penal Code section 1203.2, subdivision (a), authorizes a trial court to revoke probation "if the interests of justice so require and the court, in its judgment, has reason to believe . . . that the person has violated any of the conditions of his or her probation . . . ." In Morrissey v. Brewer (1972) 408 U.S. 471, the Supreme Court held that before a defendant's parole can be revoked due process requires the following minimum constitutional safeguards: "(a) written notice of the claimed violations of parole; (b) disclosure to the parolee of evidence against him; (c) opportunity to be heard in person and to present witnesses and documentary evidence; (d) the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses (unless the hearing officer specifically finds good cause for not allowing confrontation); (e) a 'neutral and detached' hearing body such as a traditional parole board, members of which need not be judicial officers or lawyers; and (f) a written statement by the factfinders as to the evidence relied on and reasons for revoking parole." (Id. at p. 489.) In People v. Vickers (1972) 8 Cal.3d 451, the California Supreme Court held that Morrissey's minimum due process requirements were applicable to state probation revocation proceedings. Moreover, in People v. Arreola (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1144 the court held that testimonial hearsay may not be admitted in a revocation hearing in the absence of "good cause." (Id. at p. 1154.) The Arreola court also found that " 'good cause' is met (1) when the declarant is 'unavailable' under the traditional hearsay standard , (2) when the declarant, although not legally unavailable, can be brought to the hearing only through great difficulty or expense, or (3) when the declarant's presence would pose a risk of harm (including, in appropriate circumstances, mental or emotional harm) to the declarant. " (Id. at pp. 1159-1160.)