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Name: Fairbank v. Ayers
Case #: 08-99018
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/15/2011
Subsequent History: opn. mod. 650 F.3d 1243

To establish a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, it must be proved that the informant was acting on the government’s behalf and that incriminating statements were deliberately elicited. Before appellant’s murder trial, he moved to exclude letters he wrote to a jailhouse informant in which he made incriminating statements, arguing that the informant acted as a state agent to obtain information. The trial court held the evidence was admissible. Appellant argued the use of letters written by him to a jailhouse informant violated his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. (See Massiah v. United States (1964) 377 U.S. 201.) The reviewing court rejected the Massiah claim due to lack of state involvement. Although the informant provided the letters to law enforcement in the hopes of obtaining lenient treatment, police never asked him to gather information.