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The most faithful reading of Rule 804(b)(3) is that it does not allow admission of non-self-inculpatory statements, even if they are made within a broader narrative that is generally self-inculpatory. A district court may not just assume for purposes of Rule 804(b)(3) that a statement is self-inculpatory because it is part of a fuller confession, and this is especially true when the statement implicates someone else. “The arrest statements of a codefendant have traditionally been viewed with special suspicion. Due to his strong motivation to implicate the defendant and to exonerate himself, a codefendant's statements about what the defendant said or did are less credible than ordinary hearsay evidence.” Lee v. Illinois, 476 U.S. 530, 541 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 136 (1968); Dutton v. Evans, 400 U.S. 74, 98 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring in result).


For instance, a declarant's squarely self-inculpatory confession - “yes, I killed X” - will likely be admissible under Rule 804(b)(3) against accomplices of his who are being tried under a co-conspirator liability theory. See Pinkerton v. United States, 328 U.S. 640, 647 (1946). Likewise, by showing that the declarant knew something, ...

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