U.S. v. Provencio, LIZOLA-RODRIGUE

Citation554 F.2d 361
Decision Date25 January 1977
Docket NumberLIZOLA-RODRIGUE,Nos. 76-3329,A,76-3330,s. 76-3329
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Eristello Sesena PROVENCIO, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Filibertoppellant.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)

Dwight M. Whitley, Jr. (argued), Tucson, Ariz., for appellants.

Christopher L. Pickrell (argued), Asst. U. S. Atty., Tucson, Ariz., for appellee.

Before HUFSTEDLER, SNEED and KENNEDY, Circuit Judges.


Appellants appeal from their convictions for violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a) (2) (transporting aliens). On August 27, 1976, the lawyer for the five detained alien witnesses moved for their release. Counsel for appellants was present and stated that there was no objection to having the depositions of the aliens taken and having them released. The depositions were taken on August 31 and September 3, 1976. Counsel for appellants did not stipulate to the use of the depositions at trial. In fact, the aliens were not released and were still available at the time of trial. Without objection by counsel for appellants, the depositions were used at the trial on September 9.

Two questions are presented on these appeals: (1) Was the introduction of the depositions without any proof that the deposed witnesses were unavailable and without a stipulation permitting the use of the depositions plain error? (2) Did the defendants waive their right to confront witnesses by reason of their counsel's course of conduct anteceding the trial and/or by their counsel's failure to object to the use of the depositions at the trial?

The testimony of these declarants in their pretrial depositions is, of course, hearsay, and the testimony is plainly inadmissible in absence of a showing that the witnesses whose depositions were taken were unavailable. If counsel had interposed an objection based upon the hearsay character of the statements under the circumstances, the deposition testimony would have had to be excluded. The Government not only did not, but it could not have laid the necessary foundation for the introduction of the testimony of these witnesses by way of deposition. However, it is unnecessary for us to decide whether the error in admitting the evidence without objection was plain error, because it is crystal clear that the introduction of the evidence was in violation of appellants' constitutional rights to confrontation.

The fundamental principles are old and very well settled: "Many years ago this Court stated that '(t)he primary object of the (Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment) . . . was to prevent depositions or ex parte affidavits . . . being used against a prisoner in lieu of personal examination and cross-examination of the witness in which the accused has an opportunity, not only of testing the recollection and sifting the conscience of the witness, but of compelling him to stand face to face with the jury in order that they may look at him, and judge by his demeanor upon the stand and the manner in which he gives his testimony whether he is worthy of belief.' Mattox v. United States, 156 U.S. 237, 242-243 (15 S.Ct. 337, 339, 39 L.Ed. 409) (1895). More recently, in holding the Sixth Amendment right of confrontation applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, this Court said, 'There are few subjects, perhaps, upon which this Court and other courts have been more nearly unanimous than in their expressions of belief that the right of confrontation and cross-examination is an essential and fundamental requirement for the kind of fair trial which is this country's constitutional goal.' Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400, 405, 85 S.Ct. 1065, 1068, 13 L.Ed.2d 923 (1965)." Barber v. Page, 390 U.S. 719, 721, 88 S.Ct. 1318, 1320, 20 L.Ed.2d 255 (1968).

In Barber v. Page, supra, the Court held that a defendant was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right of confrontation when, as evidence against him, a transcript of the preliminary hearing testimony of a witness was introduced and the witness was not unavailable. The witness was deemed...

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17 cases
  • U.S. v. Gibbs, 82-1096
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 19, 1984
    ...the accused and constituted serious prejudicial error. United States v. McKinney, 707 F.2d 381 (9th Cir.1983); United States v. Provencio, 554 F.2d 361 (9th Cir.1977); People v. Marine, 48 Ill.App.3d 271, 6 Ill.Dec. 25, 362 N.E.2d 454 (1977). "In exceptional circumstances, especially in cri......
  • State v. Kasper, 324-76
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • April 5, 1979
    ...accepted, especially when the right at stake is deemed "fundamental" or of constitutional dimension. See United States v. Provencio, 554 F.2d 361, 363 (9th Cir. 1977). Such misgivings understandably are prompted by the notion that adherence to the rule when faced with an obvious and fundame......
  • Ancheta v. Watada, CIV.99-00521HG-LEK.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • January 30, 2001
    ...to be implied and is not lightly to be found." Ostlund v. Bobb, 825 F.2d 1371, 1373 (9th Cir.1987) (quoting United States v. Provencio, 554 F.2d 361, 363 (9th Cir.1977)). Additionally, the Supreme Court has instructed that lower courts must "indulge every reasonable presumption against waiv......
  • Gete v. INS, 95-35408.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 4, 1997
    ...is `not to be implied and is not lightly to be found.'" Ostlund v. Bobb, 825 F.2d 1371 (9th Cir.1987) (quoting United States v. Provencio, 554 F.2d 361, 363 (9th Cir.1977)). Moreover, in accord with the rule that acquiescence cannot be presumed in the loss of fundamental rights, Ohio Bell T......
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