People v. Brown

KINGS COUNTY
Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal

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Justice Guy Mangano Jr.

A Sirois hearing was held to determine if Brown, who was charged with rape, procured the witness complainant's absence or unavailability through misconduct, thus forfeiting any hearsay or confrontation clause objections to admitting the witness' out-of-court statements. Brown allegedly sexually assaulted complainant Walker, yet while preparing for trial prosecutors discovered Walker changed her version of events from her grand jury testimony. The court found evidence submitted included numerous taped phone calls between Brown and his cousin from prison discussing making the witness "unavailable," and Walker's own admission the cousin attempted to bribe her to recant or drop the case. At the hearing, the court found Walker's testimony evasive, inconsistent and incredible. Prosecutors argued that even if Walker voluntarily appeared and testified at trial, she would testify falsely, effectively making her "unavailable" to them. The court agreed, noting the conversations clearly evinced wrongdoing by Brown and his agents. As Walker was thus found "unavailable," prosecutors were permitted to introduce into evidence out-of-court statements she made.

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