Bourjaily v. United States

Citation97 L.Ed.2d 144,107 S.Ct. 2775,483 U.S. 171
Decision Date23 June 1987
Docket NumberNo. 85-6725,85-6725
PartiesWilliam John BOURJAILY, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES
CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Syllabus

In a tape-recorded telephone conversation with a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant arranging to sell cocaine, Angelo Lonardo, who had agreed earlier to find individuals to distribute the drug, said he had a "gentleman friend" (petitioner) who had some questions. In a subsequent telephone call, the informant spoke to the "friend" about the drug's quality and the price, and later arranged with Lonardo for the sale to take place in a designated parking lot, where Lonardo would transfer the drug from the informant's car to the "friend." The transaction took place as planned, and the FBI arrested Lonardo and petitioner immediately after Lonardo placed the drug into petitioner's car. At petitioner's trial that resulted in his conviction of federal drug charges, including a conspiracy charge, the Government introduced, over petitioner's objection, Lonardo's telephone statements regarding the "friend's" participation in the transaction. The District Court found that, considering both the events in the parking lot and Lonardo's statements, the Government had established by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy involving Lonardo and petitioner existed, that Lonardo's statements were made in the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy, and that the statements thus satisfied Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E), which provides that a statement is not hearsay if it is made "by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy." The Court of Appeals affirmed, agreeing that Lonardo's statements were admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence, and also rejecting petitioner's contention that, because he could not cross-examine Lonardo (who exercised his right not to testify), admission of the statements violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him.

Held: Lonardo's out-of-court statements were properly admitted against petitioner. Pp. 175-184.

(a) When the preliminary facts relevant to Rule 801(d)(2)(E) the existence of a conspiracy and the nonoffering party's involvement in it—are disputed, the offering party must prove them by a preponderance of the evidence, not some higher standard of

proof. Rule of Evidence 104(a) requires that the court determine preliminary questions concerning the admissibility of evidence, but the Rules do not define the standard of proof. The traditional requirement that such questions be established by a preponderance of proof, regardless of the burden of proof on the substantive issues, applies here. Pp. 175-176.

(b) There is no merit to petitioner's contention—based on the "bootstrapping rule" of Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 62 S.Ct. 457, 86 L.Ed. 680, and United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 94 S.Ct. 3090, 41 L.Ed.2d 1039—that a court, in determining the preliminary facts relevant to Rule 801(d)(2)(E), must look only to independent evidence other than the statements sought to be admitted. Both Glasser and Nixon were decided before Congress enacted the Federal Rules of Evidence, and Rule 104(a) provides that, in determining preliminary questions concerning admissibility, the court "is not bound by the rules of evidence" (except those with respect to privileges), thus authorizing consideration of hearsay. Such construction of Rule 104(a) does not fundamentally change the nature of the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule. Out-of-court statements are only presumed unreliable and may be rebutted by appropriate proof, and individual pieces of evidence, insufficient in themselves to prove a point, may in cumulation prove it. Thus, a per se rule barring consideration of Lonardo's statements during preliminary factfinding is not required. Each of his statements was corroborated by independent evidence, consisting of the events that transpired at the parking lot. Accordingly, it need not be decided whether, under Rule 104(a), the courts below could have relied solely upon Lonardo's hearsay statements to establish the preliminary facts for admissibility. If Glasser and Nixon are interpreted as meaning that courts cannot look to the hearsay statements themselves for any purpose, they have been superseded by Rule 104(a). It is sufficient in this case to hold that a court, in making a preliminary factual determination under Rule 801(d)(2)(E), may examine the hearsay statements sought to be admitted. Pp. 176-181.

(c) Admission of Lonardo's statements against petitioner did not violate his rights under the Confrontation Clause. The requirements for admission under Rule 801(d)(2)(E) are identical to the requirements of the Clause, and since the statements were admissible under the Rule, there is no constitutional problem. In this context, the Clause, as a general matter, requires the prosecution to demonstrate both the unavailability of the declarant and the indicia of reliability surrounding the out-of-court declaration. However, a showing of unavailability is not required when the hearsay statement is the out-of-court declaration of a co-conspirator. United States v. Inadi, 475 U.S. 387, 106 S.Ct. 1121, 89 L.Ed.2d 390. Moreover, no independent inquiry into reliability is required when the evidence falls within a firmly rooted hearsay exception, such as the co-conspirator exception. Pp. 181—184.

781 F.2d 539, affirmed.

REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, STEVENS, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. ----. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. ----.

Stephen Allan Saltzburg, Charlottesville, Va., for petitioner.

Lawrence S. Robbins, New York City, for respondent.

Chief Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E) provides: "A statement is not hearsay if . . . [t]he statement is offered against a party and is . . . a statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy." We granted certiorari to answer three questions regarding the admission of statements under Rule 801(d)(2)(E): (1) whether the court must determine by independent evidence that the conspiracy existed and that the defendant and the declarant were members of this conspiracy; (2) the quantum of proof on which such determinations must be based; and (3) whether a court must in each case examine the circumstances of such a statement to determine its reliability. 479 U.S. 881, 107 S.Ct. 268, 93 L.Ed.2d 246 (1986).

In May 1984, Clarence Greathouse, an informant working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), arranged to sell a kilogram of cocaine to Angelo Lonardo. Lonardo agreed that he would find individuals to distribute the drug. When the sale became imminent, Lonardo stated in a tape-recorded telephone conversation that he had a "gentleman friend" who had some questions to ask about the cocaine. In a subse-

quent telephone call, Greathouse spoke to the "friend" about the quality of the drug and the price. Greathouse then spoke again with Lonardo, and the two arranged the details of the purchase. They agreed that the sale would take place in a designated hotel parking lot, and Lonardo would transfer the drug from Greathouse's car to the "friend," who would be waiting in the parking lot in his own car. Greathouse proceeded with the transaction as planned, and FBI agents arrested Lonardo and petitioner immediately after Lonardo placed a kilogram of cocaine into petitioner's car in the hotel parking lot. In petitioner's car, the agents found over $20,000 in cash.

Petitioner was charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The Government introduced, over petitioner's objection, Angelo Lonardo's telephone statements regarding the participation of the "friend" in the transaction. The District Court found that, considering the events in the parking lot and Lonardo's statements over the telephone, the Government had established by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy involving Lonardo and petitioner existed, and that Lonardo's statements over the telephone had been made in the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy. App. 66-75. Accordingly, the trial court held that Lonardo's out-of-court statements satisfied Rule 801(d)(2)(E) and were not hearsay. Petitioner was convicted on both counts and sentenced to 15 years. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. 781 F.2d 539 (1986). The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court's analysis and conclusion that Lonardo's out-of-court statements were admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence. The court also rejected petitioner's contention that because he could not cross-examine Lonardo, the admission of these statements violated his constitutional right to confront the witnesses against him. We affirm.

Before admitting a co-conspirator's statement over an objection that it does not qualify under Rule 801(d)(2)(E), a court must be satisfied that the statement actually falls within the definition of the Rule. There must be evidence that there was a conspiracy involving the declarant and the nonoffering party, and that the statement was made "during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy." Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a) provides: "Preliminary questions concerning . . . the admissibility of evidence shall be determined by the court." Petitioner and the Government agree that the existence of a conspiracy and petitioner's involvement in it are preliminary questions of fact that, under Rule 104, must be resolved by the court. The Federal Rules, however, nowhere define the standard of proof the court must...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2691 cases
  • United States v. Owens
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Mississippi
    • 6 Octubre 2016
    ...1354, 158 L. Ed. 2d 177 (2004), which Parker argues effectively abrogated Ohio v. Roberts, 448 US. 56 (1980)—upon which Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 181 (1978) relied. The Court notes that neither Parker nor Owens refers to any specific testimony, but instead makes blanket statement......
  • Commonwealth v. Andrade
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 5 Octubre 2021
    ...was the declarant. See Commonwealth v. Bright, 463 Mass. 421, 431, 974 N.E.2d 1092 (2012), citing Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171, 175, 107 S.Ct. 2775, 97 L.Ed.2d 144 (1987). Here, Nunez testified that she heard a man in a black hat and glasses make derogatory statements to Barbosa......
  • State v. Roper, No. 301A88
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 3 Abril 1991
    ...to testify at trial and defendant "cross-examined" the witness at preliminary hearing) and United States v. Bourjaily, 483 U.S. 171, 182-84, 107 S.Ct. 2775, 2782-83, 97 L.Ed.2d 144, 157-58 (1987) (co-conspirator's statement did not violate the confrontation clause where statement met requir......
  • State v. Ayala
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 24 Septiembre 2019
    ...principal only so long as the agent was acting within the scope of his employment." Bourjaily v. United States , 483 U.S. 171, 188–89, 107 S. Ct. 2775, 97 L. Ed. 2d 144 (1987) (Blackmun, J., dissenting); 30B C. Wright et al., supra, § 6780 ("[o]nly when the conspirator is trying to further ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
80 books & journal articles
  • Application of Antitrust Principles to Business Tort Claims
    • United States
    • ABA Antitrust Library Business Torts and Unfair Competition Handbook Business tort law
    • 1 Enero 2014
    ...v. U.D. Registry, 39 Cal. App. 4th 548, 563-64 (Cal. Ct. App. 1995). 169. FED. R. EVID. 801(d)(2)(E); see Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171, 183 (1987); United States v. Alameh, 341 F.3d 167, 176-177 (2d Cir. 2003); United States v. Tom, 330 F.3d 83, 93-94 (1st Cir. 2003). 170. See B......
  • Admissions
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Trial Evidence Foundations Hearsay
    • 5 Mayo 2019
    ...consider the following: • Can existence of conspiracy be proven by preponderance of evidence pursuant to Bourjaily v. United States , 107 S.Ct. 2775 (1987), and amendments to Rule 801(d)(2)? NOTE: In response to Bourjaily , rules were amended to require that trial judge, when determining pr......
  • FEDERAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review No. 58-3, July 2021
    • 1 Julio 2021
    ...of hearsay evidence, unavailability and independent indicia of reliability, are no longer necessary inco-conspirator situations. 483 U.S. 171, 179–80 (1987), superseded by statute,FED.R.EVID. 801(d). Seegenerally Ben Trachtenberg, Coconspirators, “Coventurers,” and the Exception Swallowing ......
  • Evidence
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 2 - 2017 Contents
    • 17 Agosto 2017
    ...in furtherance of the conspiracy. Peoples v. State, 928 S.W.2d 112 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1996, pet. ref ’ d ); Bourjaily v. U.S., 483 U.S. 171, 107 S.Ct. 2775, 97 L.Ed.2d 144 (1987). To satisfy the requirement that a statement be made in furtherance of the conspiracy, the statement ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 provisions
  • Fed. R. Evid. 801 Definitions Thatapply to This Article; Exclusions From Hearsay
    • United States
    • US Code 2019 Edition Title 28 Appendix Federal Rules of Evidence Article VIII. Hearsay
    • 1 Enero 2019
    ...COMMITTEE ON RULES-1997 AMENDMENTRule 801(d)(2) has been amended in order to respond to three issues raised by Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171 (1987). First, the amendment codifies the holding in Bourjaily by stating expressly that a court shall consider the contents of a coconspir......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT