In order to introduce the tape-recorded statements against Sanders, the declarant (Blair) must be unavailable as a witness according to Fed.R.Evid. 804. The statements by Blair fall under an exception to the hearsay rule, Fed.R.Evid. 804(b)(3), which provides that when a declarant is unavailable as a witness, statements against interest are not excluded by hearsay.
When a prosecutor seeks to introduce evidence of a statement that inculpates the accused, a number of courts require that statement be against the declarants interest and that there be corroboration. Factors that courts look at for corroboration include motive, general character of the declarant, whether more than one person heard the statement, whether it was made spontaneously and the timing of the declaration and relationship between the declarant and the witness.
Here, Blairs statement was certainly against his interest as it could subject him to criminal liability as well as Sanders. As for corroboration, Blair did not have a strong motive to lie because he did not know he was speaking with an undercover agent. He believed that he was speaking to a prospective interest in the counterfeiting scheme.
When these types of statements are introduced, Confrontation Clause issues arise. Under the 6th amendment, an accused has the right to confront the witness against him. The courts have shifted in their approach to the analysis regarding the confrontation clause.
In Ohio v. Roberts, the Court treated the question of when the Confrontatiion Clause prohibits the introduction of out of court statements against a criminal defendant. The Court created a reliability test and conditioned the admissibility of hearsay evidence on whether it fell under a “firmly rooted hearsay exception” or bears “particularized guarantees of trustworthiness”. Firmly rooted exceptions included excited utterances, statements concerning medical diagnoses, and co-conspirator statements. If the hearsay statement...
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