The Hogan Brothers owned an airplane piloted by
Carpenter. Carpenter was arrested in Mexico when drugs were found on the
In Mexican custody, Carpenter made statements implicating
the Hogans in a drug conspiracy.
Carpenter spent 28 months in a Mexican jail, returned to
the US, and was called to testify to a grand jury about the pending drug
trial for the Hogans. He denied any involvement in a drug conspiracy and
did not implicate the Hogans.
Carpenter was indicted for perjury.
At the Hogan's trial, the prosecution called Carpenter to
testify with the expectation that he would exculpate the Hogans. The
prosecution claimed that they would then impeach Carpenter's testimony.
The Hogans objected on the grounds that a party cannot
call a witness to testify for the sole purpose of impeaching him.
The Hogans argued that certain matters which were not
admissible for substantive proof were admissible for the purpose of
impeachment. The prosecution was trying to introduce inadmissible
evidence to the jury by impeaching the witness.
The prosecution argued that Carpenter's testimony was
relevant to the proceedings, and they could impeach anyone they wanted
under FRE 607.
The Trial Judge allowed Carpenter to testify.
During Carpenter's testimony, the prosecution played a 15
minute recording of Carpenter confessing to Mexican authorities.
That evidence would have been considered inadmissible hearsay
if the prosecution wasn't attempting to impeach Carpenter.
The Trial Court found the Hogans guilty of drug offenses.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found that calling a witness for
the primary purpose of presenting otherwise inadmissible hearsay
testimony to the jury under the guise of impeachment violates the FRE.
The Court noted that if there is another primary
purpose for calling the witness, then it would be ok to use the
opportunity to present otherwise inadmissible testimony.
Basically, the idea is that testimony is supposed to
produce substantive evidence. Impeaching a witness does not do that, so
it is not admissible.
If Carpenter had testified to a grand jury as opposed to
the Mexican police, then the first statement before the grand jury would
have been a prior inconsistent statement under oath and would be
admissible under FRE 801(d)(1), as long as Carpenter was available
for cross examination.