Guilty of Drug Posession
Appellant, William Morgan, was found guilty by a jury of
possessing phenmetrazine with intent to distribute in violation
of 21 U.S.C. 841(a) (1970).
Appellate Trial Judge Erred
We agree with his contention that the trial judge erred in
excluding certain evidence from the jury.
Warrant to Search house for Drugs
Officers obtained a warrant to search for illegal drugs in a
single-family dwelling in Northwest Washington, D.C.
The warrant was issued upon the affidavit of Detective Mathis,
stating that a reliable informant had advised him person and
known as "Timmy," was selling drugs from inside the house;
The informant made a "controlled" buy;
The informant handed Mathis some pink pills,
Informant said he purposed pills from Timmy
Later identified as phenmetrazine; and that the informant said
he had purchased these pills from Timmy.
Executing the Warrant
Arrived at the house at 10 p.m.
They did not find Timmy
However, the appellant and four other persons in the front
Snarling German Shepherd
Appellant was holding the leash on a snarling German shepherd.
Appellant Tried to smash pills on the floor
According to the officers, appellant immediately reached in his
pocket with his free hand, grabbed some pink pills, threw them
on the floor, and started to mash them with his foot.
Recovered 12 Pills
Detective Mathis managed to recover intact twelve of the pills,
Determined to be phenmetrazine.
Found 77 more pills and cash
Found seventy-seven additional such pills and $ 30 cash, found
in a shaving kit secreted in a hole in the ceiling, Tr. 17; $
4,280 cash, found in a fuse box, Tr. 42; $ 410 cash.
Found Birth Certificate
Found in a dresser drawer the birth certificate of a Kelsey
No Fingerprints were taken
No fingerprints were taken because the appellant, at least six
other persons were in the house when the police arrived.
Government At Trial
Sought to connect appellant to the 77 pills and $ 4,280 cash
Owner of the house.
She knew appellant for 2 years.
He came over to feed and exercise her dog because he was not
afraid of it.
Etheridge had used the basement bathroom, no one had lived in
the basement since October 1976.
Said he with to Mrs. McKnights house to invite one of the
occupants to a party.
He denied dropping the drugs.
Claimed to have no knowledge of the drugs or money found in the
He admitted to taking care of the dog and entered the basement
every other day.
Defense counsel Sought to establish
times during the trial defense counsel
sought to establish that
Timmy, Mrs. McKnight's son, lived in the house and was selling
Defense counsel proffered statement made by informant
Counsel proffered as evidence of this fact the
statements made by the informant
to Detective Mathis that
are contained in the affidavit supporting the search warrant.
Trial Judge Excluded because it was hearsay.
The trial judge excluded this evidence on grounds that it was
irrelevant and was hearsay
Morgan Arg statements were relevant and not hearsay
The informant's statements were neither (a) irrelevant nor (b)
hearsay under the Federal Rules of Evidence, and that their
exclusion was highly prejudicial.
(d) Statements which are not hearsay.
statement is not hearsay if--
(2) Admission by party-opponent.
The statement is offered against a
(B) a statement of which the
party has manifested an adoption or belief in its
In this case
This Rule plainly applies to the
informant's statements to Detective Mathis.
The government manifested
its belief in the truth of the informant's statements about
Timmy by characterizing them as "reliable" in a sworn
affidavit to a United States Magistrate
The Federal Rules clearly contemplate that the federal
government is a party-opponent of the defendant in criminal
The Federal Rules specifically provide that in
certain circumstances statements
made by government agents are
admissible against the
government as substantive evidence
Court Statements which the court adopts are more solid
Statements in which the government has manifested its "adoption
or belief" stand on more solid ground than mere out-of-court
assertions by a government agent.
Court Not just any statement is admissible against the
We do not decide that just Any statement the informant might
have made is admissible against the government.
Courts Rule Objection is sustained, IF government believes
We decide only that where the government has indicated in a
sworn affidavit to a judicial officer that it believes
particular statements are trustworthy, it may not sustain an
objection to the subsequent introduction of those statements on
grounds that they are hearsay.
Court - Holding
Reversed and Remanded