People v. Cummings

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the trial court’s decision to admit a statement, heard in the background of a 911 call and spoken by an unidentified person, under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule, holding that the admission of the statement was error, and the error was not harmless. During Defendant’s retrial, the trial court allowed admission of the statement at issue as an excited utterance. Defendant was convicted of one count of assault in the first degree and other crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the law-of-the-case doctrine prevented the substitute Supreme Court Justice from revisiting the prior justice’s decision to exclude the statement; and (2) the admission of the statement was in error because there was no evidence to infer that the statement was based on the personal observation of the declarant. The Appellate Division rejected both arguments. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the substitute justice was not bound by law of the case; but (2) it was not reasonably inferable from the circumstances that the unidentified speaker personally observed the shooting upon which Defendant’s convictions were based. View "People v. Cummings" on Justia Law