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United States v. Newton

891 F.2d 944 (1989)

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United States v. Newton

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

891 F.2d 944 (1989)

Facts

Stuart Newton (defendant) was charged with drug-smuggling crimes. To show that Newton had allegedly hidden some of the illegal proceeds in a Swiss bank account, the government (plaintiff) sought to admit a note that the government claimed Newton had written. The note had been found in the possession of a different defendant, but it contained several of Newton’s known aliases next to bank-account numbers. At least one of these numbers matched an account number found in Newton’s home. The note also referenced the author’s lawyer, Milton Shapiro, and Newton used a lawyer named Milton Shapiro. The note included instructions to call someone at a phone number linked to one of Newton’s coconspirators. Finally, the note said that if the author died, the money should be split between the author’s family and an individual with the same name as Newton’s wife. The court found that the note’s contents combined with the extrinsic evidence of Newton’s known aliases, associates, wife, and home papers showed that the note was most likely written by Newton, as the government claimed. Although the note was hearsay, once it was authenticated as having been written by Newton, the trial court admitted it under the hearsay exception for statements by party opponents. Newton was convicted and appealed, arguing that the note had not been properly authenticated.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bownes, J.)

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