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United States v. Webster

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
734 F.2d 1191


Facts

Webster (defendant) was tried for aiding and abetting the robbery of a federally insured bank and receiving funds stolen from the bank. At Webster’s trial, the Government offered the testimony of the bank robber, King. Before calling King to the stand, the prosecutor asked the court to allow her to conduct a voir dire examination of King outside the presence of the jury because she did not know what King’s testimony would be. Webster’s counsel objected and the voir dire was not done. King then gave testimony that exculpated Webster. To impeach King, the prosecutor introduced King’s prior inconsistent statements to the FBI in which he inculpated Webster. The statements were admitted and the judge instructed the jury that the out-of-court statements were to be considered for impeachment only and not as substantive evidence of Webster’s guilt. Webster was convicted and appealed his conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. On appeal, Webster asserted that the trial court erroneously allowed King’s prior inconsistent statements to be used as impeachment evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 607. Webster urges on appeal that prosecutors’ use of impeachment by prior inconsistent statement under FRE 607 be limited to when the prosecutor is surprised and harmed by the witness’ testimony, regardless of the prosecutor’s good faith in offering the testimony.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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