Skip to content
Name: Kansas v. Ventris
Case #: 07-1356
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 04/29/2009
Subsequent History: cross cites: 129 S.Ct. 1841; 173 L.Ed.2d 801

Testimony concerning inconsistent statements obtained in violation of the Sixth Amendment is admissible for impeachment. Ventris and Theel were charged with murder and other offenses. Prior to trial, an informant was planted in Ventris’s cell, who heard him admit to shooting and robbing the victim. At trial, Ventris testified that Theel committed the offenses. The trial court permitted the informant to testify about the contrary statement over Ventris’s objection. The Kansas Supreme Court reversed Ventris’s subsequent conviction finding the informant’s statements were not admissible for any reason, including impeachment. The United States Supreme Court reversed that opinion, holding that the informant’s testimony, elicited in violation of the Sixth Amendment, was admissible to challenge Ventris’s inconsistent testimony at trial. The interests safeguarded by excluding tainted evidence for impeachment purposes are outweighed by the need to prevent perjury and assure the integrity of the trial process. Preventing impeachment with statements obtained in violation of Massiah would add little appreciable deterrence for officers. In every other context, the Court has held that tainted evidence is admissible for impeachment, and no distinction here alters the balance.