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Chambers v. Mississippi

United States Supreme Court
410 U.S. 284 (1973)



Chambers (defendant) was accused of murdering a police officer during a confrontation between police and a hostile crowd. Several months after Chambers’ arrest, McDonald spoke with Chambers’ attorneys and gave a written confession to the murder. McDonald repudiated his confession at a subsequent preliminary hearing and was released from custody. At trial, Chambers called McDonald as a witness and had his confession admitted into evidence. After the prosecution cross-examined McDonald, Chambers moved to examine him as an adverse witness in order to challenge the credibility of his subsequent repudiations of his confession. The trial court denied his request for adverse examination. Chambers attempted to elicit testimony of three additional witnesses who would have presented evidence of conduct and statements tending to validate McDonald’s confession. The trial court excluded the admission of testimony from each witness on hearsay grounds. Chambers was convicted and appealed through the state courts. The state courts upheld his conviction and Chambers petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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