Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Admission of Plea Allocution in Violation of Crawford is Harmless

United States v. Lombardozzi, No. 04-0380-cr (2d Cir. July 11, 2007) (Kearse, Sack, Hall, CJJ)

No new ground here. Defendant was charged with various extortion offenses in connection with loans that he, through confederates, extended to a restaurant owner. At trial, over objection, the government entered into evidence a co-defendant’s plea allocution, in which he admitted that he “conspired with others” to use threats of violence to collect a loan.

The court of appeals agreed that this violated Crawford, but found that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The government placed little emphasis on the allocution in its summation, and the admissible evidence establishing the existence of the conspiracy – the victim’s testimony and recorded conversations – was “overwhelming.”

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