Tome v. United States, 513 U.S. 150 (1995)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the tenth circuit

No. 93-6892. Argued October 5, 1994—Decided January 10, 1995

Petitioner Tome was charged with sexually abusing his daughter A. T. when she was four years old. The Government theorized that he committed the assault while A. T. was in his custody and that the crime was disclosed while she was spending vacation time with her mother. The defense countered that the allegations were concocted so A. T. would not be returned to her father, who had primary physical custody. A. T. testified at the trial, and, in order to rebut the implicit charge that her testimony was motivated by a desire to live with her mother, the Government presented six witnesses who recounted out-of-court statements that A. T. made about the alleged assault while she was living with her mother. The District Court admitted the statements under, inter alia, Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B), which provides that prior statements of a witness are not hearsay if they are consistent with the witness' testimony and offered to rebut a charge against the witness of "recent fabrication or improper influence or motive." Tome was convicted, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, adopting the Government's argument that A. T.'s statements were admissible even though they had been made after her alleged motive to fabricate arose. Reasoning that the premotive requirement is a function of relevancy, not the hearsay rules, the court balanced A. T.'s motive to lie against the probative value of one of the statements and determined that the District Court had not erred in admitting the statements.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.

3 F. 3d 342, reversed and remanded. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to

Part II-B, concluding: 1. Rule 801(d)(1)(B) permits the introduction of a declarant's consistent out-of-court statements to rebut a charge of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive only when those statements were made before the charged fabrication, influence, or motive, conditions that were not established here. Pp. 156-160, 163-166. (a) Rule 801(d)(1)(B) embodies the prevailing common-law rule in existence for more than a century before the Federal Rules of Evidence were adopted: A prior consistent statement introduced to rebut a charge of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive was admissible if

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