U.S. v. Patrick – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In U.S. v. Patrick, 294 U.S. App. D.C. 393, 959 F.2d 991 (D.C. Cir. 1992), appellant was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and the use of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking. Id. at 993.

During a search, pursuant to a warrant, of a one bedroom apartment where appellant was residing, police seized a large amount of cocaine, money, a handgun, and a sales receipt for a television set. Id. at 994.

The receipt indicated appellant purchased a new TV and listed the residence as his address. Id. Appellant objected to the admission of the sales receipt at trial, contending that the document was hearsay. Id. at 999.

The Court stated:

During closing argument, the prosecutor explained: Take, for example, an argument that might be made that that's not his apartment, that he doesn't live there, and that's not his bedroom, that he doesn't stay in that bedroom. Well, ladies and gentlemen, let's look at a couple of things that were taken out of that bedroom. Look at government's exhibit no. 14, the television receipt. You all had a chance to look at this closely before, when it was admitted into evidence. G.A. Patrick, 818 Chesapeake Street, Southeast, Washington, D.C. 20020.

The receipt so used constituted a statement, namely Patrick lived at 818 Chesapeake Street, Southeast, and that statement indisputably was hearsay. Unlike the use of the name on the receipt to show that an item belonging to Patrick was found in the bedroom, the prosecutor published Patrick's address as it appeared on the receipt to prove the truth of the matter asserted, that is, the address of Patrick's residence. (Patrick, 959 F.2d at 1000.)

The Court explained further that the receipt was double hearsay because it embodied the assertion of both the Circuit City employee who made out the receipt and the customer who provided the address.

In the absence of testimony that Circuit City's standard practice was to record and verify an address provided by a customer, the Court concluded that the receipt did not fall under the business record exception. Id. at 1000-1001.

The Court in Patrick determined that "the government used the receipt to prove that Patrick resided at the address." Id at 1000 n.13.