United States v. Morales

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 07-02-2013
  • Case #: 12-10069
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judges McKeown and Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

United States Border Patrol Field 826 forms are public records of government agencies for the purpose of Federal Rule of Evidence 803, but since they contain statements of third parties who are not governmental employees, they may not be admitted under the public records hearsay exception.

Kaleena Morales appealed her convictions for illegally transporting aliens. Morales argued that the government used inadmissible hearsay and that the district court erred by admitting the Field 826, a Border Patrol form, with statements taken from the aliens, violating her rights under the Confrontation Clause. The district court admitted the Border Patrol form under the business record exception, Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6), because it was created for the administration of the Border Patrol’s affairs and not for the propose of establishing some fact at trial. The Ninth Circuit held that admitting the form did not violate the Confrontation Clause because neither the form itself nor the statements contained within the forms implicated the Confrontation Clause. Also, the panel determined that the forms were not business records, but instead were public records. Further, the forms were hearsay because they contained recorded statements of detained aliens with no duty to report to the Border Patrol, and the forms did not describe government activities. The panel also held that the error was harmless and that the admission of the forms did not materially affect the outcome of the trial. AFFIRMED.

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