State v. Smith Case Brief

Summary of State v. Smith, 97 Wash.2d 856 (1982)

Relevant Facts: An assault victim wrote out a statement on a form provided by a police detective, where she named the Df as her assailant. That statement was signed under oath with penalty of perjury before a notary. However, at the Df’s trial a month later she named another person as her attacker. The trial court allowed her prior inconsistent statement to be used as substantive evidence, and not hearsay.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the prior statement of the witness, was given within the definitional meaning of an “other proceeding," thereby allowing its introduction as substantive evidence?

Court’s Holding: Yes, she wrote the statement herself, swore to it under oath, and gave an inconsistent statement at trial where she was subject to cross examination.

Procedure: Jury trial convicted Df; but the judge granted a new trial b/c the statement was not given in a “proceeding;" Remand to trial court, reinstate the jury verdict, and sentence df.

Law or Rule(s): All prior inconsistent statements given in other proceedings may be used as substantive evidence.

Court Rationale: Historically, “Other proceeding," as used in the rule, includes grand jury proceedings. The 9 th Cir interpreted it to be open ended and not restricted just to grand jury proceedings. It compared grand jury proceedings with immigration proceedings and held the two shared enough similarities to admit statements. That court mention that it did not hold that every sworn statement given during a police-station interrogation would be admissible. There’s no question that the statement was made b/c she testified to that fact. Minimal guarantees of truthfulness were met since the statement was attested to before a notary, under oath, and subject to penalty for perjury, plus the witness wrote it in her own words. During her testimony the jury could evaluate the explanation of the inconsistency and determine whether true or not. There are 4 legally permissive methods to determine the existence of probable cause, one of which ‘filing of an information by the prosecutor with the court,’ is the result of a police investigation–taking sworn statements. Since the purpose of the statement is the same as the other three methods, grand jury indictment, inquest proceedings, and filing a criminal complaint, (determining probable cause), it should also be covered by the rule in an appropriate case like the one before the ct. Under the totality of circumstance 801 is satisfied.

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