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State v. Green

Supreme Court of Washington
428 P.2d 540 (1967)


The State of Washington (plaintiff) prosecuted Nathaniel Leon Green, Charles Gaither, and Wilkerson (defendants) for burglary. Before trial, Gaither voluntarily signed a statement giving full details of the crime and incriminating Green. The prosecutor neither interviewed Gaither before the trial, nor tried to ascertain if Gaither might later repudiate the statement. At trial, Gaither testified that Green did not participate in the crime. Surprised by this testimony, the prosecutor attempted to impeach Gaither by showing him the pretrial statement. Gaither testified that the statement referred to another Green, not Nathaniel Leon Green. The prosecutor then produced witnesses to show Gaither's pretrial statement did refer to Nathaniel Leon Green and was corroborated by other evidence. The jury convicted Green. Green appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington, arguing the prosecutor neither questioned Gaither nor evaluated Gaither's reliability before trial, and therefore could not claim surprise or introduce impeachment evidence.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hale, J.)

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