Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Morales v. Portuondo case brief

Morales v. Portuondo case brief summary
154 F. Supp. 2d 706 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)

Petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus regarding his second-degree murder conviction. The court denied the petition, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit remanded the case.

Petitioner was convicted of murder in state court. After the trial, but before sentencing, another person told a priest, the co-defendant's mother, petitioner's attorney, and a Legal Aid attorney that he and two other individuals had committed the murder. The state court determined that the statements to the mother and petitioner's attorney were inadmissible hearsay. After the declarant died, the priest and the Legal Aid attorney disclosed the declarant's statements. Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.


  • The court granted the petition. 
  • Petitioner's due process rights were violated because he had a right to present evidence of the statements to a jury and the trial court improperly excluded the statements. 
  • The statements made to the mother and petitioner's attorney were admissible because the statements met the requirements of the exception for declarations against penal interest. 
  • The statements made to the priest and the Legal Aid attorney were admissible under the residual exception. 
  • In addition, the statements bore sufficient indicia of reliability and trustworthiness to make them admissible. 
  • Privileges did not bar admission of the statements.

The habeas corpus petition was granted.

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