December 15, 2017
I’m on Meth. I got it from Dave
The week of December 11, 2017, was a little bit of a letdown in the way of Minnesota criminal case law. Nothing was published, but there was a case about hearsay. Hearsay is one term that is often incorrectly by the public at large. Along with “squashing” warrants and something being rendered mood. “Hearsay” is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Minn. R. Evid. 801(c). There are exceptions to hearsay but we don’t need to get into those now. Here are the facts of this case:
Samuel Manthey was intoxicated at a social event. Hopefully, it wasn’t a baby shower because that would be completely unacceptable. Unless he was having issues with conceiving then it would mitigate the baby shower intoxication a little. When asked if he was on the sizzurp he said, “I’m on liquid methadone,” and “I got it from Morgan Pavey.” Mr. Pavey is the defendant in this case. The next morning Mr. Manthey’s family found him unresponsive and the cause of death was methadone toxicity. The State charged Mr. Pavey with 3rd-degree murder and used the statements made by Manthey against Pavey. Pavey got convicted and appealed the conviction.
The district court admitted the statements made by Manthey under Minn. R. Evid. 807. That is the “catch-all” rule when none of the other hearsay exceptions apply. Minn. R. Evid. 807, which allows admission of hearsay that possesses “equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness.”
Rule 807 of the Minnesota Rules of Evidence provides that a hearsay statement not specifically covered by rule 803 or 804 but having equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness, may be admitted into evidence if it meets the criteria identified in the rule. When determining whether the statement has equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness, a district court uses a totality of the circumstances test. State v. Griffin, 834 N.W.2d 688, 693 (Minn. 2013)
A district court should generally consider the following factors in evaluating trustworthiness:
whether the statement was given voluntarily, under oath, and subject to cross-examination and penalty of perjury; the declarant’s relationship to the parties; the declarant’s motivation to make the statement; the declarant’s personal knowledge; whether the declarant ever recanted the statement; the existence of corroborating evidence; and the character of the declarant for truthfulness and honesty. Id.
Here, they say Manthey made a voluntary statement. He made the statements to friends who did not know Pavey and he had no motivation to lie. What the Court is glossing over is that he was higher than a kite and people that are high are not reliable. He could have been lying, he could have been mistaken, he could have gotten the drugs from Pavey but he could have stolen them from him. We have really bare bones of evidence here. But then Facebook happened. Public service announcements to defendants: Don’t Communicate with People About Crimes on Facebook. A friend of Manthey’s named, KT started communicating with Pavey on Facebook and Pavey wrote the following:
“Your [sic] pathetic it wasn’t even mine im on 48 mgs just stop . . . That wouldn’t of even got high he had 150i told him exactly how to take it he was doing what he always did. Pushed his limits that the way sam was . . . That goes for a dollar a mg I didn’t make a profit on it so stfu you sound so ignorant you have no idea what happened so why do you act like you do?”
I am not sure what that means but it makes me want to do an aggressive facepalm. There is your circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. To determine “that the statement has the necessary ‘guarantees of trustworthiness,’” Minnesota Rule of Evidence 807 also requires that the district court consider whether:
(A) the statement is offered as evidence of a material fact; (B) the statement is more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence which the proponent can procure through reasonable efforts; and (C) the general purposes of these rules and the interests of justice will best be served by admission of the statement into evidence.
The Court agreed that these factors were all met and Pavey’s conviction gets upheld. The lesson is here is clear. This was a case that would not have been charged if Pavey would have just used MySpace. While, I don’t condone the language, Spaulding from “Caddyshack” inherently understands this case in the video below.