Monday, April 29, 2013

Bourjaily v. United States case brief

Bourjaily v. United States case brief
483 U.S. 171

CASE SYNOPSIS: Defendant petitioned for a writ of certiorari from a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's ruling that out-of-court telephone statements satisfied the requirements of Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E) to permit their admissibility as co-conspirator statements made in the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy.

FACTS: Defendant was charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. The government introduced, over defendant's objection, out-of-court telephone statements. The trial court held that such statements satisfied Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E) as being the statements made by a co-conspirator during the course and in the furtherance of the conspiracy.

On appeal, the Court held that in making a preliminary factual determination under Rule 801(d)(2)(E) as to whether the conspiracy existed and that defendant and the declarant were members of the conspiracy, the trial court could examine the hearsay statements sought to be admitted.

The Court further rejected any suggestion that the admission of statements against defendant violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. As the requirements for admission under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E) were identical to the requirements of the Confrontation Clause and because the statements were admissible under the Rule, there was no constitutional problem. The Confrontation Clause did not require a trial court to embark on an independent inquiry into the reliability of statements that satisfied the requirements of Rule 801(d)(2)(E).

CONCLUSION: The Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court.
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