United States v. Jaramillo-Suarez
950 F.2d 1378 (1991)

  • Suarez was arrested for selling cocaine.
  • At trial, the prosecutors produced an accounting document found at Suarez’s apartment that purportedly showed drug sales data.
    • Suarez objected to the introduction of the document on the grounds that it was hearsay.
      • Suarez argued that there was no way to establish that he had authored the document.  Therefore it was circumstantial evidence.
  • The judge allowed the document to be admitted.
  • The Trial Court convicted Suarez.  Suarez appealed on the ground that the document was inadmissible.
  • The Appellate Court upheld the conviction.
    • The Appellate Court found that the document had only been used to show the character of the apartment.
      • Basically, the prosecution used the document to show that the apartment had been used for drug dealing and that Suarez lived there.  The specifics of what the document said were not used.
        • “It was not used to prove the truth of the matters asserted in them.”
      • Circumstantial evidence can be admitted on a limited basis in order to show the character of the place where it is found.
  • The document could not be admitted into evidence to prove the facts on the document because there is no way to know if the information on the document is true or not.  But if that is the case, why can the prosecution get away with using the document to show that the apartment was being used for drug sales.  If the information isn’t true, then the document doesn’t say anything about the character of the apartment, right?