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United States v. Manfredi

November 13, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SAMUEL J. MANFREDI AND MARILYN T. MANFREDI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nora Barry Fischer United States District Judge

Judge Nora Barry Fischer

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Presently before the Court are Defendants Samuel J. Manfredi and Marilyn T. Manfredi's Notice of Intent to Offer Evidence Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 807 (Docket No. 121)*fn1 , the Government's Motion in Limine Regarding the Defendants' Intention to Introduce Testimony of Elsie Urban Under Rule 807 (Docket No. 171), and the Defendants' Brief in Opposition to the Government's Motion in Limine (Docket No. 175). In their Notice, the Defendants seek to introduce a hearsay statement purportedly made by Samuel J. Manfredi, Sr., Defendant Samuel Manfredi's deceased father, through testimony from Elsie Urban, Defendant Marilyn Manfredi's mother, pursuant to Rule 807 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. (Docket No. 121). The Government objects to the Defendants' use of the proffered hearsay statement at trial. (Docket No. 171). Upon consideration of these submissions, and after hearing oral argument from counsel on October 27, 2009, and for the following reasons, the Government's Motion in Limine [171] is granted.

Accordingly, the Defendants shall be precluded from introducing the proffered hearsay statement at trial pursuant to Rule 807 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The Defendants' proffer of testimony of Elsie Urban states the following:

[Mrs. Urban] is expected to testify that in approximately 1991 she and her husband, John Urban, who is now deceased, went to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh to visit Samuel J. Manfredi, Sr., the defendant's father, who was a patient there at the time. He died two years later, in 1993. Mr. and Mrs. Urban had a good relationship with Samuel J. Manfredi, Sr. During their visit with him at the hospital, they talked about their children, Sam and Marilyn. The Urbans expressed some concern about a large house Sam and Marilyn had just built and how they were going to pay for it, because, the Urbans believed, Sam and Marilyn's business was not doing as well as it had been. In response, Samuel Manfredi, Sr. told them not to worry about a thing, because he had given them more money than they will ever need. (Docket No. 121 at 1-2).

Defendants do not dispute that the proffered testimony is based on hearsay, which is defined as "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." Fed.R.Evid. 801(c). They also do not argue that the statement is admissible under any of the other exceptions to the hearsay rule set forth in Rules 803 and 804 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. See Fed.R.Evid. 803, 804. Instead, they seek to admit the testimony of Mrs. Urban pursuant to Rule 807, which provides that:

A statement not specifically covered by Rule 803 or 804 but having equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness, is not excluded by the hearsay rule, if the court determines that (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. However, a statement may not be admitted under this exception unless the proponent of it makes known to the adverse party sufficiently in advance of the trial or hearing to provide the adverse party with a fair opportunity to prepare to meet it, the proponent's intention to offer the statement and the particulars of it, including the name and address of the declarant.

Fed.R.Evid. 807. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recognized that the residual exception to the hearsay rule, codified at Rule 807, is "'to be used only rarely, and in exceptional circumstances' and 'appl[ies] only when certain exceptional guarantees of trustworthiness exist and when high degrees of probativeness and necessity are present.'" United States v. Wright, 363 F.3d 237, 245 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting United States v. Bailey, 581 F.2d 341, 347 (3d Cir.1978)); United States v. Lawrence, 349 F.3d 109, 117 (3d Cir. 2003)(same).

This Court must first evaluate whether the statement has "exceptional guarantees of trustworthiness." Wright, 363 F.3d at 245. "[T]he trustworthiness of a statement should be analyzed by evaluating not only the facts corroborating the veracity of the statement, but also the circumstances in which the declarant made the statement and the incentive he had to speak truthfully or falsely." Bailey, 581 F.2d at 349. "[A]n assessment of the guarantees of trustworthiness relating to any statement is necessarily highly fact specific." Wright, 363 F.3d at 246. Several factors for consideration include whether:

(1) the declarant was known and named; (2) the statement was made under oath; (3) the declarant knew his assertions were subject to cross-examination; (4) the statement was based on personal knowledge; (5) the declarant had motivation to lie; (6) the statement was corroborated; and (7) the declarant was qualified to make the assertion.

United States v. Wilson, 281 Fed.Appx. 96, 99 (3d Cir. 2008)(not precedential)(citing BohlerUddeholm Am., Inc. v. Ellwood Group, Inc., 247 F.3d 79, 113 (3d Cir.2001)).

A few of the factors weigh in favor of finding trustworthiness. The declarant is known and named, Mr. Manfredi, Sr. The statement was presumably made based on his personal knowledge and also involves matters on which he would be qualified to make a statement, i.e., whether he had given his son and daughter-in-law money.

However, the other factors weigh against the purported trustworthiness of the statement. While the Defendants contend that Mr. Manfredi, Sr. had no reason to lie or fabricate, the proffered statement does not have the reliability of the type of statements which are admitted pursuant to the hearsay exceptions set forth in Rule 804(b), i.e., former testimony, dying declarations, statements against interest or ...


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