The issue of third party confessions generates great controversy. The basic inquiry is, should confessions allegedly uttered by persons other than the defendant be admitted into evidence in a criminal trial? If so, under what conditions? How much discretion should a trial judge be afforded in determining whether this evidence should be admitted to exculpate a person charged with murder, armed robbery, or rape? Should the trial judge or the jury determine the reliability of the witness, the declarant, or the content of the confession itself? These considerations, in addition to due process arguments, have troubled criminal courts, legislators, and recently the Supreme Court of Virginia in Ellison v. Commonwealth.
Donna J. Katos,
The Status of the Third Party Confession in Virginia: In Search of a Trustworthiness Standard,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol15/iss1/7