SailorsAllen Law

International Hearsay

The week of September 18, 2017, did not bring us much in the form of case law, but it did bring this blog unprecedented attention.  I found out that this blog is read internationally.   Meaning someone I know, read it while abroad.  So it is just a matter of time before this blog catches fire in the Country Chad.  Because if there is one thing people in different countries care about, it is Minnesota case law.  That being said since there was nothing published of substance we can look at an unpublished case.

This case is called, State v. Abdullah, A16-1693 and was released on September 18, 2017.   This case is about hearsay.  People love to talk about hearsay.  They say well that is just hearsay when someone tells them what someone else says about them.  And they right!   It someone named Dave tells you someone named Todd called you a “power tool,” that is hearsay.   And that is what this case is about.   Mr. Abdullah’s first name was Rarity and he was convicted of being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm.   Here the facts:

On June 24, 2015, a St. Paul police officer heard shots fired.   The officer drove toward the shots, which is one reason as to why I would not make a good police officer because I would where there is not gunfire.   Unless it was that event at the Olympics where you bobsled for a while and then shot.   The officers saw a Lincoln speeding away which made them think the Lincoln could have been involved in the shooting.   They followed the Lincoln and someone got out who the officer described as a tall individual with dreadlocks.  So it could have been Javier Baez.  Addison Russell gets hurt and Baez decided to rock the dreds because he played short.    The Cub’s middle infield may be insipid to some, but again we have to keep the international readership happy.

The officers eventually pulled the Lincoln over and arrested Rarity’s brother named R.A.  No word on whether or not he served that role on the campus of Concordia St. Paul.   Someone named R.I., who does not serve as dorm supervisor for Hamline University said they saw someone a nervous looking man dump something in her neighbor’s garbage can.  A firearm was discovered in the garbage and it was tested for DNA by the BCA.  There was a mixture of three or individuals on the gun.  51.6 of the world’s population, including Rarity, could not be excluded.   8 billion people in the word that means a little less than 4 billion could not be excluded.  So Rarity was not a rarity with the DNA finding.   99.99999 with a bar over the last 9 could be excluded from reading this blog (before the international readership) that is powerful evidence.  Another officer found 4 casings from the scene where the shots were fired and the shots matched the gun found in the trash.

On the second day of trial, R.A. was arrested in his dorm with his lava lamp and Dave Matthews Band cd, (it has been a while since I have been on a college campus) and brought to trial.  R.A. was combative and testified that he did not remember where he was on June 24th.    After R.A.’s testimony, the state recalled Officer Filiowich who testified that after R.A. said that “[h]e thought somebody was shooting at his vehicle so he took off with his brother in the vehicle.” R.A. said that his brother’s name is Rarity.   Prior to this testimony, Rarity raised a hearsay objection. The testimony was allowed. Rarity also objected to Officer Filiowich’s squad video, which was nonetheless admitted and played for the jury from the beginning of the car chase through R.A.’s statement.  The court explained that R.A.’s prior recorded statement was admitted as substantive evidence as a prior inconsistent statement under Minn. R. Evid. 801(d)(1)(A).  The court concluded that the statement was not hearsay because it was inconsistent with R.A.’s testimony, it was not cumulative, and it was helpful to the trier of fact.

In the closing argument, the State argued that R.A.’s statement to the officer was more reliable than his trial testimony and asked the jury to convict Rarity for possessing the firearm.    He was convicted and appealed the decision to allow the hearsay.

Both sides agreed that it was hearsay.  Rarity argued that it was not given under oath, therefore it not qualify as an exception to hearsay under Minn. R. Evid. 801(d)(1)(A).  He said without it, they did not have sufficient evidence and the State relied heavily on the evidence by emphasizing it during the closing.

The state argues the statement is an excited utterance and was therefore admissible under an exception to the hearsay rule. See Minn. R. Evid. 803(2). The state classifies R.A.’s prior recorded statement as an excited utterance because there was a startling event, the statement related to the startling event, and R.A. was “under a sufficient aura of excitement caused by the event” to guarantee the statement’s trustworthiness. State v. Daniels, 380 N.W.2d 777, 782 (Minn. 1986).

Going back to the example of Dave telling you Todd called you a “power tool.”   If Todd had called you a “power tool” under oath and then denied than Todd’s statement could come into evidence as a prior inconsistent statement and could come into evidence.  That is what the Judge said.   The State said the Judge was wrong (never a good sign for your appeal) but the “power tool” statement made by Todd is admissible by Dave because Todd was super excited when he said it.  It was an excited utterance because people don’t usually lie when they are excited the statements are considered more reliable than nonexcited people.  Since the State did not argue

Since the State did not argue this in the trial, there was no record of how excited R.A. really was – R.A.’s so excited, he cannot hide it, he’s about to lose his mind and I think he likes it.  Therefore, not admissible.  And Rarity’s conviction gets reversed.  Rarity wins and now people know in Bolivia.