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United States v. Vartanian

245 F.3d 609 (2001)

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United States v. Vartanian

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

245 F.3d 609 (2001)

Facts

Richard Vartanian (defendant) was charged in federal court for crimes relating to his verbal assault and threats of violence made against an African-American family, the Stingers, and real estate agents, Steven Weiss and Kathy Martin. The Stingers were looking to purchase the house across the street from Vartanian when he emerged and unleashed a slew of insults and threats. Vartanian threatened to find the Stingers and chop them into little pieces and bury them in the backyard. He also threatened to have the neighborhood boycott Martin’s real estate agency. Weiss and Martin filed a police report and the Stingers went through with the sale. The Stingers then filed a civil suit against Vartanian and won a sizable judgment. At the civil trial, Weiss testified for the Stingers as to the threats made by Vartanian. Vartanian’s defense was that those statements were directed to Martin, who was not a party to the case. Simultaneously, Vartanian was indicted for charges related to the incident. Weiss died in between the civil and criminal trial and thus was unavailable to testify in the criminal trial. The court allowed the government (plaintiff) to read into evidence Weiss’s former testimony under the unavailable-declarant exception to hearsay. Vartanian was convicted. On appeal, he asserted that his civil defense attorney did not have the same motives when cross-examining Weiss, and thus admitting the statements was error.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Daughtrey, J.)

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