Arizona Rule of Evidence 801 Case Example

In State v. Chavez, 225 Ariz. 442,8, 9, 239 P.3d 761, 763 (App. 2010) the Court held that a series of text messages left on the defendant's phone, apparently inquiring about the purchase of methamphetamine, were nonhearsay because they were not offered for the truth of the matters directly asserted therein--that the declarants wanted to purchase drugs. 225 Ariz. 442,2, 6-9, 239 P.3d at 762-63. Rather, they were offered for the "implicit beliefs" conveyed by those messages--that the defendant "had drugs for sale." 225 Ariz. 442,8, 9, 239 P.3d at 763. In so concluding, the court adopted the definition of "statement" from the advisory note to the federal rule that excludes from the application of the hearsay rule "'all evidence of conduct, verbal or nonverbal, not intended as an assertion.'" Id.7, quoting Fed. R. Evid. 801(a) advisory committee note. Applying that approach to the comments before it, the court reasoned that the declarants' inquiries to purchase drugs were merely a species of verbal conduct because they were only implicit expressions of the declarants' belief that Chavez possessed drugs for sale rather than direct ones. Id.7-9. Put another way, nothing about the words contained in the utterances, "Can you deliver a 50-shot?" or "I just need a half" asserted that Chavez possessed methamphetamine for sale. Id. 6. Rather, the declarants' belief that Chavez sold drugs had to be inferred or deduced from the words uttered, thereby demonstrating that the declarants did not specifically intend to convey that belief with their words. In Chavez, this court reasoned that because our rule of evidence defining hearsay was adopted verbatim from its counterpart in the federal rules, compare Ariz. R. Evid. 801(a), (c), with Fed. R. Evid. 801(a), (c), the supreme court must have also intended to adopt all of the reasoning found in the advisory note to that federal rule. See Chavez, 225 Ariz. 442,7 & n.4, 239 P.3d at 763 & n.4.