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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The applicant was convicted of capital murder in 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argued that his right to confrontation under the Sixth Amendment had been violated. He specifically objected that a statement made to police by his non-testifying co-defendant should have been excluded as inadmissible hearsay. The court of appeals held first that the statement was not hearsay, because it was not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted but rather to explain why the officer had focused his investigation on the applicant. The court also held that the applicant’s questioning of the investigating officer about the circumstances of the interrogation made the entire statement admissible under the rule of optional completeness (Texas Rule of Evidence 107). Finally, the court held that, if it was error to admit the statement, the error was harmless. The court of appeals’ decision, however, was issued before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Crawford, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). Prior to Crawford, confrontation clause issues were resolved under Ohio v. Roberts, in which the Supreme Court held that the statement of an unavailable witness could be admitted against the defendant in a criminal trial if it bore adequate “indicia of reliability,” meaning generally that the statement fell under a “firmly rooted hearsay exception” or showed “particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.” Crawford rejected the Roberts standard, making clear that, in order to be constitutionally sufficient, any system of ensuring the reliability of testimonial statements must include a defendant’s ability to confront the witness. In light of Crawford, the applicant then sought habeas corpus relief from the conviction that was based, in part, on the statement of his co-defendant who was not available for confrontation. The potential success of his claim therefore depended on whether Crawford applies retroactively and is thus available to the applicant on collateral review. HOLDING:The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) denied the applicant habeas corpus relief. The CCA cited Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the terms under which its decisions in criminal cases will apply retroactively. The decision holds that generally, a new constitutional rule of criminal procedure will apply to cases still pending on direct review but not to cases that have become final before the new rules are announced. The CCA cited two exceptions to the general rule of non-retroactivity for cases on collateral review. First, a new rule will be applied retroactively if it places “certain kinds of primary, private individual conduct beyond the power of [the law] to proscribe.” Second, a new rule will be retroactive if it requires the observance of procedures that are “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” The CCA found that the Crawford rule fit neither of these exceptions. It does not necessarily improve the trial court’s truth-finding capabilities, the court stated, nor does it seriously diminish the likelihood of an accurate conviction. Therefore, the court held, Crawford is not subject to the Teague exception. Because it found that Crawford is not retroactive, the court denied the applicant habeas-corpus relief. OPINION:Per curiam.

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