State v. Norfolk

Amicus curiae brief of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Brief filed: 03/21/2012


State v. Norfolk

Missouri Court of Appeals; Case No. SC 92252

Prior Decision

Decision below _____ SW.3d _____, 2011 WL 5541791 (Mo.App. 2011).


After the trial court erroneously admitted evidence (firearm, ammunition and marijuana) seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the defendant admitted under oath that the gun and marijuana were his. The court of appeals held that while the trial court clearly erred in denying Norfolk’s motion to suppress, given the defendant’s confession in open court, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. When evidence is erroneously admitted at trial, the defendant’s subsequent testimony cannot render that error harmless; Missouri’s harmless error rule regarding subsequent testimony has been overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court and makes little practical sense.

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Stewart Banner, UCLA Law School, Los Angeles, CA, Talmage E. Newton IV, Pleban & Petruska Law, LLC, St. Louis, MO, and Burton H. Shostak, Shostak Law LLC, Clayton, MO.