MRE 803(24) Interpretation

The only case interpreting MRE 803(24) is People v. Welch, 226 Mich. App. 461; 574 N.W.2d 682 (1997), which the defendant argued that the trial court improperly refused to allow a hearsay statement into evidence under MRE 803(24). Welch, 226 Mich. App. at 464-468. An officer had recorded, in his report, that a witness at the chaotic scene of the crime approached the officer and indicated that the victim, before jumping off a bridge, said she was going to kill herself. The officer observed the witness, who was named Simmons, laughing and giggling about the situation before approaching and making the statement. The officer did not get any information from Simmons about where Simmons was when, or under what circumstances, he allegedly heard the victim state that she was going to kill herself. The trial court refused to allow the hearsay statement under MRE 803(24), finding that no other person had heard the victim make such a statement, that there was no indication that Simmons heard the statement himself, that the group was laughing and giggling about the incident, which reduced the trustworthiness of the statement, that sixteen minutes passed between the time Simmons allegedly heard the statement and the time he told the officer about it, that the scene was chaotic, and that the officer did not write down the statement as Simmons gave it to him. Welch, 226 Mich. App. at 465-466. The Court noted that MRE 803(24) had not been interpreted in Michigan and that it needed to look at analogous cases discussing the federal catchall exceptions, FRE 803(24) and 804(b)(5). In United States v. Barrett, 8 F.3d 1296, 1300 (CA 8, 1993), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the issue whether hearsay evidence of a child's statements concerning her mother's abuse were sufficiently trustworthy to be admissible under FRE 803(24): "In order to comply with the Sixth Amendment, hearsay statements offered into evidence must bear 'adequate "indicia of reliability."' This reliability requirement is fulfilled when the hearsay exception either '"falls within a firmly rooted hearsay exception"' or occurs under circumstances with '"particularized guarantees of trustworthiness."' Because the residual exception FRE 803(24) 'is not a firmly rooted hearsay exception for Confrontation Clause purposes,' these . . . statements must be analyzed for particularized guarantees of trustworthiness. In order to determine whether a statement meets this standard, the trial court must examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the making of the statement and those rendering the declarant particularly worthy of belief. "