Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
District courts should admit such law-enforcement reports, if at all, only under the public records exception contained in Fed. R. Evid. 803(8). That an interview might be used to grant a green card to a United States citizen's spouse, rather than to prosecute the alien for a crime, does not shift the case from the public records exception, under Fed. R. Evid. 803(8), to the business, records exception under Fed. R. Evid.803(6), because the record was in fact being used for criminal prosecution. When public records are used against a defendant in a criminal prosecution, the public records exception is the exclusive applicable hearsay exception. It is the exception that speaks directly to public records and carefully delineates the distinction between criminal and civil proceedings in order to protect a defendant's rights under the confrontation clause.
Defendant Santos Renan Orellana-Blanco allegedly married Beatrice Boehm so he could remain in the United States. The theory of the prosecution's case was that defendant fraudulently married a woman, Beatrice Boehm, to evade restrictions in the immigration laws, and that he lied in his sworn statement and other papers by stating that he was married to her and lived with her when the marriage was actually a sham. Boehm was not charged and was instead used as a star witness against defendant. At trial, there was conflicting evidence of the couple's marital relationship. Defendant sought review of a decision of the district court which convicted defendant after a jury trial of marriage fraud and making a false statement on an immigration document. On appeal, defendant challenged the admission of a purported sworn statement defendant allegedly made to an officer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Reversing the conviction, the court held that the statement should not have been admitted.
Was the admission of a purported sworn statement defendant allegedly made to an officer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) valid?
The court reversed the trial court’s decision convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of marriage fraud and making a false statement on an immigration document. The matter was remanded for a new trial. The court held that the report at issue was not an admission because the foundation was inadequate to demonstrate that defendant really made or adopted the statements. The court rejected the prosecution's argument that the statement was admissible as a statement from a coconspirator under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E), because that rule did not apply to defendant's statement when defendant allegedly conspired with someone else. The document was not a business record under Fed. R. Evid. 803(6) because it was a law enforcement report, and was not a public record under Fed. R. Evid. 803(8) because the report was inherently adversarial and was not routine. Admission of the document was not a harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt when it was the key piece of evidence against defendant.