Sunday, December 22, 2013

United States v. Barrett case brief

United States v. Barrett case brief summary
539 F.2d 244 (1st Cir. 1976)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant sought review of a judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts that convicted him of interstate transportation of stolen postage stamps, in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 2314; the receipt, concealment, sale, barter, and disposal of stolen postage stamps in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 2315; and conspiracy under 18 U.S.C.S. § 371.

CASE FACTS
Appellant was convicted of various crimes arising from the theft and sale of a collection of postage stamps taken from a museum. At appellant's trial, the trial court refused to admit the evidence of three defense witnesses who could provide exculpatory testimony. Appellant sought review of his conviction, and the court vacated and remanded for a new trial.

DISCUSSION
  • One of the witnesses that appellant sought to present would have testified that he had a conversation with a co-conspirator who admitted that he but not appellant was involved in the theft. 
  • The co-conspirator who made the statement died prior to appellant's trial. 
  • The court agreed with appellant that the testimony could be admissible as a statement against interest pursuant toFed. R. Evid. 804(b)(3). 
  • Where a declarant was unavailable as a witness, a statement made by him that exposed him to criminal liability and offered to exculpate the accused was admissible provided that the statement was proven to be trustworthy by corroborating circumstances. 
  • The trial court never inquired into the trustworthiness of the statement before deciding to exclude it from the evidence.
CONCLUSION
Judgment convicting appellant of interstate transportation of stolen postage stamps; receipt, concealment, sale, barter, and disposal of stolen postage stamps; and conspiracy was vacated and remanded for a new trial. The trial court erred when it excluded from evidence hearsay testimony that may have been admissible as a statement against interest. The trial court failed to inquire into whether the statement was trustworthy before excluding it.


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