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United States v. Duran Samaniego

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
345 F.3d 1280 (11th Cir. 2003)


Facts

Roberto Duran Samaniego (Duran) (defendant) was a world-champion boxer. Duran claimed that his championship belts were stolen by his brother-in-law, Bolivar Iglesias. The belts were recovered when Luis Gonzalez Baez (defendant) attempted to sell the belts to federal agents. Baez claimed that the belts were not stolen. The United States government (plaintiff) filed an interpleader action to determine the rightful owner of the belts. Duran sought to have Iglesias testify at trial, but Iglesias was a Panamanian national and lived in Panama. Despite the help of Iglesias’s immediate family members, Duran could not locate Iglesias and thus could not get Iglesias to travel to the United States and testify. Instead, Duran sought to introduce the testimony of Iglesias’s family members stating that Iglesias had apologized to them for stealing the belts. The district court admitted this testimony over Baez’s objection, under the state-of-mind exception to the hearsay rule. As a result, the district court did not reach the issue of whether Iglesias’s apology was admissible as a statement against interest. The jury found that Duran was the rightful owner of the belts. Baez appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Carnes, J.)

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