Brief Fact Summary. Clarence Greathouse (“Mr. Greathouse”), while working as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), arranged to sell a kilogram of cocaine to Angelo Lonardo (“Mr. Lonardo”).
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Evidence (F.R.E.) Rule 801(d)(2)(E), a statement is not hearsay if the statement is offered against a party and is a statement by a co-conspirator of a party made during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Issue. Whether the court must determine by independent evidence that a conspiracy existed and that the defendant and the declarant were members of this conspiracy?
Held. No. Even though the rule has since been rewritten to allow some “bootsrapping”, as long as there is some independent corroboration independent evidence is not needed.
Under James, a declaration by one defendant is admissible against other defendants only when there is a sufficient showing, by the independent evidence, of a conspiracy among one or more other defendants and the declarant and if the declarations at issue were in furtherance of that conspiracy, and as a preliminary matter, there must be substantial, independent evidence of a conspiracy at least enough to take the question to the jury.View Full Point of Law
The question really comes down to whether or not the court can look at the statements themselves in determining whether or not there was a conspiracy, or whether they may look only to independent evidence. Glasser’s bootstrapping rule (saying that hearsay may not be considered in these factual determinations) does not remain viable after the enactment of the F.R.E.
The Supreme Court of the United States (“Supreme Court”) here decides that the conspiracy was all proven by independent evidence and that the statements were all proven, though not one by one, as a whole in the unfolding of the entire series of events. As a result, the court never reaches the issues of whether they could have relied on the statements alone in determining their admissibility.
Lastly, the Court decides that this exception has been around a long time, and that reliability is therefore not required to satisfy the requirements of the confrontation clause.