San Diego Law Review
Prior Inconsistent Statements As an Exception to the Hearsay Rule: An Analysis of People v. Johnson
In February 1964, Edwin Johnson was indicted by the Yolo County Grand Jury for the crime of incest. The twofold basis of the indictment lay in the testimony of his 15-year-old daughter, Elaine, who stated that he had engaged in an act of sexual intercourse with her on January 11, 1964; and in the testimony of his wife, Eleanor, who claimed that she had observed occasions of sex play between her husband and daughter. At trial in January 1967, however, both witnesses denied that defendant had engaged in any illicit sexual relations with Elaine. To negate these denials, the prosecution, utilizing section 1235 of the California Evidence Code, introduced as substantive evidence the prior statements of Elaine and Mrs. Johnson before the grand jury. Although Elaine Johnson’s prior testimony constituted the only evidence of the alleged criminal act, and Mrs. Johnson’s prior statement the only supporting evidence, the defendant was found guilty. The California District Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. On appeal to the Supreme Court of California, held, reversed: The admission of a witness’ prior inconsistent statements for their substantive value in criminal cases violates the defendant’s sixth amendment right of confrontation. People v. Johnson, 68 Adv. Cal. 674, 441 P.2d 111, 68 Cal. Rptr. 599 (1968).
Prior Inconsistent Statements As an Exception to the Hearsay Rule: An Analysis of People v. Johnson,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol6/iss1/7