The Law School Authority

U.S. v. Parry Case Brief

Summary of U.S. v. Parry, 649 F.2d 292 (1981)

Relevant Facts: The Df was arrested for conspiracy to distribute, possess w/ intent to distribute PCP and Meth.  At trial, the govt offered the testimony of two undercover agents who stated the DF had acted as a middleman.  The Df did not refute his participation, but claimed he proceeded on the belief that he was working for the agents.  Df offered a conversation that he had with his mother as support.  She stated, in camera, that Df informed her after phone call that he was working for the narcotic agents.  The court excluded this testimony as hearsay.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the D. Ct erred in excluding certain testimony by the appellant’s mother as inadmissible hearsay?

Court’s Holding: Not hearsay.

Procedure: Jury trial conviction; Reversed and Remanded for new trial.

Law or Rule(s):   Out of court statements offered as a testimonial assertion of the truth of the matter stated, are inadmissible.

Court Rationale:   Normally, a statement made out of court is not exposed to the credibility safeguards of oath, presence at trial, and cross exam, the jury has not basis for evaluating the declarant’s trustworthiness and therefore the statement is unreliable.  The out of court statement to his mother was outside the hearsay prohibition b/c it was being offered for a purpose other than to prove the truth of a matter asserted.  The mother sought to testify that her son had stated that the person who had been telephoning her home was a narcotics agent and that the Df was working for him.  The statement was not offered to prove that the caller was a narcotics agent or that the Df was working with the agent, but to establish that the Df had knowledge of the agent’s identity when he spoke.

Using an out of court utterance as circumstantial evidence of the declarant’s knowledge of the existence of some fact, does not offend the hearsay rule.

The court should have instructed the jury on the limited purpose of the evidence’s admissibility where evidence is admissible for one purpose but not for another.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The excluded testimony was not offered to evidence the truth of the matter asserted in the out of court statement.

Defendant’s Argument: 1) The danger in admitting this type of statement for the purpose claimed, would allow the jury to improperly use it; and 2) The error was harmless b/c the mother’s narration of the alleged conversation was merely cumulative of evidence already testified to by the Df.

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