The Supreme Court today made it harder for defendants to keep their comments to jailhouse informants from being used against them at trial, reports the Associated Press. By a 7-2 vote, the court said a defendant’s statement to an informant can be used to challene trial testimony, even if it was elicited in violation of the Constitution.
Justice Antonin Scalia said prosecutors could not use the informant to prove their case, but rather impeach inconsistent testimony. The Kansas Supreme Court had ruled that a defendant’s statement to an informant could not be used at all. The case involved Donnie Ventrism, who was convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. Police put an informant in his cell before trial, and Ventris confessed to him.