People v. LigginsAnnotate this Case
Liggins violated the terms of his probation multiple times; each time it was reinstated with modified terms. Police responded to an alleged altercation between Liggins and his girlfriend, Roy, at 4:00 o’clock in the morning. Roy was found outside a San Francisco convenience store crying and yelling. She told officers Liggins had punched, kicked, and choked her. After the fight, Liggins apparently rode away on his bicycle. Roy’s behavior was unruly, characterized by screaming and cursing. Officers arrested Liggins. By the time of Liggins’s preliminary hearing, his former attorney stated that Roy had recanted her accusations against Liggins; her erratic behavior at the scene of Liggins’s arrest, Roy told his attorney, resulted from her being under the influence of a controlled substance and her failure to take prescribed medication for manic-depression. At the probation revocation hearing, Liggins’s attorney asserted hearsay objections to the admission of an officer’s body camera footage, which captured Roy making statements about Liggins’s conduct, and an officer’s testimony to Roy’s statement identifying Liggins. The objections were overruled. The court revoked Liggins’s probation and sentenced him to three years in prison.
The court of appeal reversed. While the trial court was within its discretion to admit the challenged statements under the spontaneous statement exception, their admission in the absence of a showing of Roy’s unavailability or other good cause to present hearsay in lieu of live testimony from her violated Liggins’s due process right of confrontation.