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United States v. Saget

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

March 15, 2004, Argued ; July 28, 2004, Decided

Docket No. 03-1200

Opinion

 [*224]  SOTOMAYOR, Circuit Judge: 

Defendant-appellant James Saget appeals from a judgment of conviction entered on April 1, 2003 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Kaplan, J.), following a jury trial. Saget was convicted of one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, to traffic in firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A) and to make false statements in connection with firearms trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), as well as one count of firearms trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C.§ 922(a)(1)(A). On appeal, Saget argues that, inter alia, the district court violated his Confrontation Clause [**3]  rights by allowing the government to introduce into evidence the statements of a separately indicted co-conspirator, Shawn Beckham, who was unavailable to testify at the trial. Saget also argues that the court abused its discretion in determining that Beckham's statements were admissible under the exception to the hearsay rule for statements against the declarant's penal interest, see Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(3). We address these arguments in this opinion and deal with Saget's other challenges to his conviction in a summary order to be later filed.

We hold that the introduction of Beckham's co-conspirator statements against Saget did not violate the Confrontation Clause  [*225]  because the statements were not testimonial, and therefore did not implicate the per se bar on the introduction of out-of-court testimonial statements, absent a prior opportunity for cross-examination, enunciated by Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 158 L. Ed. 2d 177, 124 S. Ct. 1354 (2004), and because Beckham's statements were made under circumstances conferring the indicia of reliability required by Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 65 L. Ed. 2d 597, 100 S. Ct. 2531 (1980). [**4]  We also hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the statements as against the declarant's penal interests pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(3).

BACKGROUND 

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377 F.3d 223 *; 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 15529 **; 64 Fed. R. Serv. (Callaghan) 1195

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. JAMES SAGET, also known as Hesh, Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History: Subsequent appeal at United States v. Saget, 108 Fed. Appx. 667, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 18745 (2004)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Saget v. United States, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 260 (U.S., Jan. 10, 2005)

Prior History:  [**1]  Defendant-appellant James Saget appeals from a judgment of conviction entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Kaplan, J.) of conspiracy to traffic in firearms and firearms trafficking, following a jury trial. Saget contends that the district court violated his Confrontation Clause rights by permitting the government to introduce into evidence statements that Saget's co-conspirator made to a confidential informant. We hold that (1) the co-conspirator's statements were not testimonial under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 158 L. Ed. 2d 177, 124 S. Ct. 1354 (2004), and therefore do not implicate Crawford's per se bar on the introduction of out-of-court testimonial statements without a prior opportunity for cross-examination; (2) because the statements were made under circumstances conferring particularized guarantees of trustworthiness, their admission did not violate Saget's confrontation rights as enunciated in Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 65 L. Ed. 2d 597, 100 S. Ct. 2531 (1980); and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the statements were admissible as statements against the declarant's penal interest under Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(3) [**2]  .

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

declarant, reliability, testimonial statement, testimonial, guns, penal interest, cross-examination, firearms, district court, nontestimonial, hearsay, self-inculpatory, trustworthiness, implicated, hearsay exception, conversations, particularized guarantees, reasonable expectation, declarant's statement, out-of-court, gun-running, conspiracy, argues, firmly, rooted, circumstances, confrontation, formulations, trafficking, unavailable

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Confrontation, Criminal Law & Procedure, Trials, Defendant's Rights, General Overview, Evidence, Hearsay, Rule Components, Statements, Commencement of Criminal Proceedings, Interrogation, Exceptions, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Statements Against Interest