Confrontation and Residual Hearsay. A Critical Examination, and B Proposal for Military Courts

Author:by Captain John L. Ross


For the past century, but particularly in the last twenty years, the Supreme Court has struggled to articulate a cohesive analytical framework for applying the amilarly rooted, but incongruent, protections afforded to a criminal defendant by the hearsay rule and the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment.' Most commentators agree that the Court has not charted a clear or consistent course,2 and the Court has itself so a~knowledged.~

The Court's effort-difficult enough when balancing confrontation clause protections against "traditional" hearsay concepts-was considerably complicated by the adoption of the residual hearsay exceetions' as art of the Federal Rules of Evidence

Contrary to some early predictions that the residual exceptions would be unimportant and rarely used,s the exceptions have produced a profusion of lower federal court precedents.8 Not surprisingly, these

era1 Rubs ofEvidence m Cnmmal Metiers, 13,41 119721. Walt2.PioipnfS.nseImpirr-S ~ B and tho Residual Hearsqr Ereeptwn A h'rw Do? far "Ord'Hearsay~,

2 Lltlgatm

22, 24 (19751 Ihereinsffer Pnaent Eonaa Impmsswnel

'Xawellv UnlversslElec Co, 192F.2d1310 15thCv 1996l.UnnedSfafeiv Moore. 791 F.2d 566 17th Cir. 19861. United States v Vrette. 190 F2d 651 (7th Clr I, can Lnipd, 107 S Cf 179 119971: Cook v Hoppm, 793 F 2d 694 17th Clr 1986#, Unlied States v Renville. 779 F 2d 430 19th Cir 19951 United Ststes v Cree. 778 F.Zd 474 (9th Clr 19851. United States Y Howard. 774 F Id 839 (7th Cir 1935). United States

I Welsh, 774 F 2d 670 14th C s 1985): United Stetea v Simmons 773 F Zd 1455 (4th Clr 19651, Brsnea Y Scanty Ben Life Ins Co, 773 F2d 1158 111th Cn 19961. rnadUied. 769 F 2d 1511 (11th Cir 19861, United States Y Brown. 170 F 2d 768 19th Cn 1985). errt denwd, 106 S Ct 2896 119861. Dartez v Fibreboard Carp, 765 F 2d 456 (5th Clr 1996): United Statea Y WoosIey. 761 F 2d 445 (8th Cir 19651. In re Cormgated Container Antirruit Lmgatmn. 156 F 21441 16th Ca 1996~.

United States

Y Loslra.Vasquez. 135 F 2d 153 (6th Cir. 19941, Dehrs P \, Turhngon 730 F 2d 1405 111th Cir. 1984): Moffeft Y MeCeuley, 724 F 2d 581 11th Cir 1994r: In re Japanese Electmnir Pnducta Antitrust Litigation. 123 F.2d 236 13rd Cir 1933). redd, 106 S Ct 1348 (19961. Herdman J, Smith, 707 F 2d 939 (5th Cir 19931. Estate of Gryder v Commlsnoner. 706 F 2d 336 18th Ca ), crrl denud. 464 U S 1008 (1983), Abernathyv Superior Hardwoods. Inc, 704 F 2d 963 (7th Cn 19831. United States Y DeLuea, 692 F 2d 1277 19th Ca 19821, Wnght v Fanners Co-ap ai Arkansas and Oklahoma.661 F 2d 549 19th Clr 19821, Kame v Commmsloner, 673 F 2d lo62 19th Cir 19821. Umted State8 v Thevls, 965 F Zd 616 15th Clr I, rert dmad. 455 US 1009 11982). United Srsfec v Colian 662 F Zd 1399 111th Cir 1991) Plva \, Xerox Carp 654 F 2d 591 (SrhCn 19811, CenlralFreigh~Lmes,Im v NLRB, 653F 2d 1023!5fhClr 1991). Clark v City of Lon Angeles. 950 F 2d 1033 1sth Ca 19911. ciif dmud, 458 US 927 119821, Robinson v Shspra, 646 F.2d 734 (2nd Cir 19811. Uniud States Y Hmknon. 932 F.2d 382 14th Cir 19601. Elizsmsraa v Bank Of El Pasa. 631 F 2d 366 15th CI19801,Calhounu Bsiler.626F2d 14519fhCir 1980l.cert denird.452US 90611981 UrutadSfatesv Rafliff,623F Zd 1293 (SthCir 19801,c~ri denied, 449U S 676k1981 United States v Anderson. 618 F 2d 491 (8th Clr 19801. United Suite8 v Atkmi, 61F 2d 366 15th Clr 19801 United States Y. White, 611 F Zd 531 (5th Clr 1. a m denied, 446 US 992 11990). delars v Equitable Life Assvr Sac of U S ,610 F 2d 55 [let C r 1979>, Hun v mm Mator Cow, 909 F 2d 296 (7th Ca 19191: United States v Hitaman. 604 F 2d 443 15th Clr 1979): Fvfado Y Bahap,cerf denvd, 444 U S 1035 119301. United States v Frede19791. United States 1. MePartlm, 595 F 2d 1321 17th Cir119791: United States V. Kim,

595 F 2d 755 1D C. C w 1979

Piper Aircraft. 594 F.2d 1040 (5th Cir 19791. United Sfst19th Ca 19791. United States Y Love, 592 F Zd 1022 18th Cn 19191 United States V. Mendel, 591 F2d 1347 14th Cir 19191. cen denud. 445 U S 961 119901, Unrfe State8 Y Barnes, 589 F 2d 1052 15th Clr 19761. United States Y. Bailey. 591 F 2d 34 (3rd Cir 19181. Pittabugh Res8 Club Y United States. 579 F 2d 751 (3rd Cir 1978 Copperweld Steel Ca v Demag.Mannesmann.Bohler. 578 F 2d 953 (3rd Ca 1918 United States v Garner. 574 F.2d 1141 (4th Cir I, een denEd. 469 U S 936 11978 United States v West, 574 F.2d 1131 14th Cir 19781: United States V. Wilharnb. 57 F 2d 294 15th Ca 19781, United States v Lyon, 567 F 2d 777 16th Clr 19771, Unite Sfatea Y Oatea, 560 F 2d 45 (2d Cir 1971). United States Y Gomlales, 559 F 2d 1271 (5th Cir 19771. United States Y Mathis, 569 F 2d 294 15th Clr 19771, United Stales

Y Medica, 55V F 26 309 (2d Ca 1, mn domed, 434 U S 989 11971): United States Y

429 US 1041 (19771, United States Y. Pfelffer, 539 F.2d 668 18th Clr 19761. United State8 Y Gomez. 529 F Zd 412 15th Ca 19761. United States Y. Yates, 524 F Zd 1292 ID C Cir 19151, Muneie Aviation Carp v PaRy Doll Fleet, Inc , 519 F 2d 1178 15th

19871 RESIDUAL HEARSAY decisions have also been analytically inconsistent,' and the Supreme Court has yet to interpret either of the residual exceptions. Further-more, while some scholars have discussed the confrontation clause 88

it relates to hearsay generally? and others have analyzed it against specific hearsay exceptions? and still others have examined the re. sidual exceptions themselves,'n inquiry into the impact of the residual exceptions upon confrontation clause analysis has been lim>ted."

The Military Rules of Evidence, of course, adopted Federal Rules of Evidence (F.R.E.) 803124) and 804(bl(5), with most federal bags and judicial baggage included.12 Given the confusing analyses of the article I11 courts, predictably, the growing number of courts of mill-t q review decisions resolving remdual hearsay questions have beenequally inconsistent. Although several residual hearsay cases have reached the Court of Military Appeals, that court has not yet em-barked an a comprehensive examination of the military residual hearsay exceptiona In the cnntext of confrontation clause analysis Fi-nally, military scholarship on the subject has similarly been limited."

Aecordmgly, this article has several aims First, It will reexamine the confrontation clause guarantee in light of several recent Supreme Court decisions,'' and offer a proposed analytical framework. Second, it will examine the residual exceptions, as interpreted by the article 111 courts, and suggest a methodology for resolving residual hearsay questions Flnally, the article will examine the residual hearsay decisions of the mhtary courts, and evaluate the courts' treatment of the hearsay and confrontation issues.

Cam decision has approved the me of an out-of-court Btstement whlch produces 8'8- nlhcanf egalnst the aecuseds position unl~ss that etstement ha8 been subjected tacmss.exammstmby theaecvsedeitherat aprshminary hp.n"gorpreviavstria! "I: Note, Rtstdual Erroptima 10 the Heorsay Rule tn the Fedma1 Rule8 ofEviLnee A Crifzeal Elumznaf~an, 31 Rutgeri L Rev 687, 719 119781 lthe residual exeeptianb da mt anwar v1 ~ g e

B real threat ta the mnfrontshon rmhts of criminal defendenwl.

R Evid analysis

L8United Statel Y Hmes, 23 M J. 126 (C M.A 19861, United States v Cordero. 22

M J 216 tC Y A 19861. United SLeLes Y Powell, 22 Y J 141 tC M A 19861 1eonfron-fatm clsuae not addressedl. United States Y LeMere. 22 M J 61. 69 1C Y rcmfrontafion i ~ m e not presentl. 4 United States v Cakeley, 22 M J 22519861 leanfrontatm ~ S Y D addressed, but ease did not involve residual hears '*Clsu~.

Uilifvry Rule ofEuidann 8031241181 nnd the Auaiiobb Wafwipas. TLawyer Nos 1986 at 51 Holmes. The Residual Heoraay Ercepl~ana A Primr far.Uilifoj une.94Mi L Re; 15.82-83 119811 Ikquatingthe sfandardeforadmissibility under the confmnralion elau~e and the reaidval hearsay ereeptlans). Kelly & Dana. Lmgating the Residu! Evpfions to the Heorsoy Rule. 16 The Adva'ate 4, 38 11984), Thwmg, The Constiivtwml Pornmetem ofHewaay Ebidawe, The Amy Lauyer. Dee 1986 at 25, Note. EHediue Ura o f t k Residual H c w w Ercpfion, The Army Lawyer

>INew Mexico v Earnest. 106 S Cf 2734 (19861 (per rul~lm1,

sept 1984. at 2

464 N E Id 858 (19651

~Ycaltng and 4


Like at least one author before me,'6 I recognize the hazerds of such a grandiose undertaking." Nevertheless, given the relative infancy of the military residual hearsay exceptions, the potential benefits to military justice me worth the risk. The Court of Military Appeals presently has B golden opportunity to examine this complex area of evidential and constitutional law anew, and provide fresh, clear guidance to both the lower militaly and article I11 ~ourts.'~


In seeking to interpret a part of the Constitution, logic suggests that we might begin with the provision's language. As it relates to confrontation, the sixth amendment states simply: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him. . . ."This literal reading immediately tell8 us several things, if inexactly.'g

First, the provision applies only to criminal prosecutions.

Second, whatever the provision may guarantee, it ia a "right" that "shall" be enjoyed only by the accused, not the prosecution.

Third, the nght is to be "confronted."

Fourth, the right only applies to "witnesses against" the accused

Our focus will be on the latter two of these elements. More specifically, this article assumes a enminal prosecution with tnal before a petit jury or court members,2O and with the challenged evidence offered against the defendant in open court.z1 Likewise, the article does

"Graham. ~ v p m

note 2. at 144liSer Supra note 11.'Wnlted States v Rouaeau, 21 M.J 860 (A C.M R I, plum granted, 23 M J 176 (C.M.A. 1987); United States v Slovacek, 21 M J 536 (A F.C M.R!, piifion filed, 21M J. 354 (1955). United States v Yeauger. 20 M J 797 (XM C.M.R. 19851, ptilm...

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