United States v Jones

Jones appealed the revocation of his supervised release arguing it was improperly based entirely on hearsay. The panel reversed and remanded. It held that, consistent with every other circuit to consider the issue, the 10th Circuit reliability test is no longer the correct standard. It held that Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1(b)(2)(C) now requires district courts to balance defendant’s right to confront witnesses against the government’s good cause for not providing that opportunity. It held that the district court here failed to apply the correct test as it evaluated reliability and the gravity of the matter but did not analyze confrontation rights and the government reasoning for not putting the eyewitness tot eh shooting on the stand. It finally held this error was not harmless because it is unlikely the hearsay statements of the eyewitness would have come in under the balancing test as there was a strong need for cross examination of the witness who was older and had been drinking, may have been biased against Jones, had a  criminal record which could undermine her credibility and had identified someone besides Jones in a  photo lineup and the government good faith arguments were limited as it asked for an inference the witness didn’t testify at a state proceeding involving the fatal shooting out of fear when it was equally reasonable she didn’t testify because she had lied about Jones’ guilt. Given the hearsay testimony was the basis for the revocation and given the doubts about the admissibility of the evidence, the revocation of supervised release was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.