What Is An 'Interlocking' Confessions Exception and Why Was It Overruled ?

In Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S. Ct. 1620, 20 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1968), the Court held that admission at a joint trial of a non-testifying co-defendant's confession which implicated defendant was prejudicial error even though the trial court clearly instructed the jury not to consider the co-defendant's statement against the defendant. Courts subsequently developed an "interlocking" confessions exception to the Bruton rule. However, that "interlocking" confession exception was overruled by the United States Supreme Court in Cruz v. New York, 481 U.S. 186, 107 S. Ct. 1714, 95 L. Ed. 2d 162 (1987). The Court held that: "Where two or more defendants are tried jointly, ... the pretrial confession of one of them that implicates the others is not admissible against the others unless the confessing defendant waives his Fifth Amendment rights so as to permit cross-examination." "... Where a nontestifying codefendant's confession incriminating the defendant is not directly admissible against the defendant, see Lee v. Illinois [476 U.S. 530, 106 S. Ct. 2056, 90 L. Ed. 2d 514 (1986)], the Confrontation clause bars it admission at their joint trial, even if the jury is instructed not to consider it against the defendant and even if the defendant's own confession is admitted against him."