Washington Law Review


Washington courts hold that where a statement by an unavailable declarant, offered in the trial of a third party inculpated by the statement, is predominantly disserving to the declarant's penal interest, the statement is admissible under the hearsay exception for declarations against interest. Federal courts have split on the admissibility of such declarations, with some courts holding that any non-disserving portions must be severed and excluded. In Williamson v. United States, the United States Supreme Court narrowed the scope of Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3) on declarations against interest and held that only the individual portions of such statements that are against the declarant's interest are admissible. This Comment considers the balance of the policy against admitting hearsay with the need for reliable evidence, and examines the guidance offered by the advisory committee note to 804(b)(3). This Comment additionally contemplates the practical applicability of both the Williamson and Washington courts' approaches, and concludes that Washington courts should retain their current interpretation of the rule for declarations against interest regarding inculpatory statements.

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