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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court, supporting the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

In 1993, the State of Maryland tried Anthony Bell and Kevin Gray jointly for the murder of Stacy Williams. The State entered Bell's confession into evidence at trial. According to the trial judge's order, the police detective who read the confession said the word "deleted" or "deletion" whenever Gray's name appeared. Subsequently, the prosecutor asked the detective if Bell's confession led to Gray's arrest. The detective answered that it did. Ultimately, Gray testified and Bell did not. When instructing the jury, the trial judge specified that the confession was evidence only against Bell. The jury convicted both Bell and Gray. Setting aside Gray's conviction, Maryland's intermediate appellate court applied Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, in which the Court held that, despite a limiting instruction that the jury should consider the confession as evidence only against the confessing codefendant, the introduction of such a confession at a joint trial violates the nonconfessing defendant's Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine witnesses. Maryland's highest court reinstated the conviction.


Does Bruton v. United States apply to a redaction that replaces a name with an obvious blank space or a symbol or a word such as "deleted?"

Decision: 5 votes for Gray, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court held that the confession, which substituted blanks and the word "delete" for the respondent's proper name, falls within the class of statements to which Bruton's protections apply. Applying Bruton, Justice Breyer wrote that a jury will often react to an unredacted confession and a confession redacted with the word "delete" similarly by realizing that the confession refers to the defendant. Justice Anton Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas, dissented. Justice Scalia argued that Bell's confession could constitutionally have been admitted with a limiting instruction to the jury.

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GRAY v. MARYLAND. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
GRAY v. MARYLAND, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"GRAY v. MARYLAND," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,