Fitzgerald v. Bass

In Fitzgerald v. Bass, 6 Va. App. 38, 366 S.E.2d 615 (1988), the witness was merely a cellmate to whom the accused confessed. See id. at 47, 366 S.E.2d at 620. The cellmate admitted to one felony conviction and said that he had one charge pending against him when he met the accused but that it had been reduced to a misdemeanor. See 6 Va. App. at 49, 366 S.E.2d at 621. In fact, he had three prior felony convictions and two pending felony charges in another jurisdiction, and was a paid informant for the state police on a matter not involving the accused. See id. at 47, 49, 366 S.E.2d at 620, 621. The court acknowledged that the cellmate provided testimony key to the accused's conviction, but noted that the jury knew the cellmate was a convicted felon, had committed misdemeanor offenses involving moral turpitude, and was incarcerated when he met the accused. See 6 Va. App. at 54-55, 366 S.E.2d at 624. Under those circumstances, it held, "given the extent to which the cellmate's credibility was impeached, it is doubtful that additional evidence in this regard would have made a difference in the jury's opinion of his credibility." Id. at 55, 366 S.E.2d at 624-25.