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Pro Bono Client Granted Supreme Court Review in Confrontation Clause Case

Paul, Weiss secured Supreme Court review in Samia v. United States on behalf of petitioner Adam Samia, who was convicted of murder in 2018 after the Southern District of New York admitted a co-defendant’s redacted out-of-court confession that named Samia as the person who pulled the trigger. The Court will address the question of whether such a confession, which immediately inculpates the defendant, violates the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which dictates that criminal defendants have the right to be confronted by the witnesses against them.

Samia was tried along with two co-defendants for the 2012 murder of a real estate agent in the Philippines in an alleged murder-for-hire. Both co-defendants admitted that they had participated in the murder and disputed only the government’s jurisdiction over the crime. Samia alone maintained his innocence. The district court denied Samia’s motion to sever his trial and permitted the introduction of an out-of-court confession by a co-defendant that pointed to Samia as the shooter.

To address the Confrontation Clause problem created by the introduction of that confession, the district court required the government to redact Samia’s name and replace it with references to the “other person.” The government referred to the confession in its opening statement as some of the “most crucial” evidence that would prove Samia’s guilt. The district court held that the redactions were sufficient to avoid a Confrontation Clause violation, and the Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the confession did not incriminate Samia when considered apart from the greater context of the trial.

Litigation partner Kannon Shanmugam was first retained by Samia in 2018; the Supreme Court granted certiorari on December 13.

In addition to Kannon, the Paul, Weiss team includes litigation partner Jeannie Rhee and associates William Marks, Matteo Godi, Kirsten Dedrickson, Elizabeth Norford and Morgan Sandhu.

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