Excluding Co Defendant's Statements In District of Columbia
The United States Supreme Court revisited the issue of the admissibility of co-defendant statements in Gray v. Maryland, 523 U.S. 185, 118 S. Ct. 1151, 140 L. Ed. 2d 294 (1998).
In Gray, the redacted extrajudicial statement the government sought to introduce into evidence had not eliminated any and all references to the existence of other defendants, but had merely substituted the word "deleted" for the names of the individuals involved.
The United States Supreme Court held that the use of a redacted statement that reads "me, deleted, deleted, and a few other guys," was unconstitutional because the use of "obvious indications of alteration" facially incriminated the defendant because its reference to his identity could be inferred from the statement itself. Gray, supra, 118 S. Ct. at 1156-57.
The Court further clarified its holding in Gray, suggesting that the statement, "me and a few other guys," would have passed constitutional muster. In reaching its decision, the Court in Gray reaffirmed its rationale in Richardson that an inference based on other evidence introduced at trial to determine whether an extrajudicial statement is incriminating can be inappropriate.
Since the United States Supreme Court decision in Gray, several circuit courts have interpreted Bruton-Richardson as modified by Gray, and determined that a court should only look to the face of extrajudicial statements by non-testifying co-defendant in discerning if the statement is expressly or inferentially incriminating.
See, e.g., United States v. Akinkoye, 174 F.3d 451, 457 (4th Cir. 1999) (finding no Bruton violation where the use of neutral phrases "another person" and "another individual" did not facially implicate the defendant);
United States v. Vejar-Urias, 165 F.3d 337, 340 (5th Cir. 1999) (holding that "where a defendant's name is replaced with a neutral pronoun, as long as identification of the defendant is clear or inculpatory only by reference to evidence other than the redacted confession, and a limiting instruction is given to the jury, there is no Bruton violation");
United States v. Verduzco-Martinez, 186 F.3d 1208, 1215 (10th Cir. 1999) (holding that "the fact that a redacted statement may have inferentially incriminated the defendant when read in context with other evidence does not create a Bruton violation");
United States v. Peterson, 140 F.3d 819, 822 (11th Cir. 1998) (expressing that the Court in Gray noted "that redactions which do not lead to the inference that a specific person was named and the identity of that person is protected through redaction may be appropriate");
United States v. Wilson, 333 U.S. App. D.C. 103, 160 F.3d 732, 740 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (commenting that the Court in Gray revisited Bruton and Richardson to clarify the curtailed use of inference in a Bruton analysis).
See also Richard F. Dzubin, Casenote: the Extension of the Bruton Rule at the Expense of Judicial Efficiency in Gray v. Maryland, 33 U. RICH. L. REV. 227, 240 (1999), where the author posits that "the Gray decision effectively asserts that the Court is following a clear precedent of looking only to inferences that may be drawn from the confession itself."