This Commentary examines the case United States v. Iaconetti. The issue is the impact of the Federal Rules of Evidence upon the admissibility of prior statements of a witness which are consistent with his or her trial testimony. Generally, it may be said that the unanimous common law view of the courts was that such statements could not be received as evidence of the facts asserted in them because admission for such a purpose would violate the hearsay rule. If, however, the statements were received only to prove that they had been made, they would not be considered hearsay. In theory, then, there was only one question to occupy the courts' attention: Under what circumstances would the making of a prior consistent statement by a witness be of sufficient probative value to warrant incurring the risks involved in admitting it? Essentially this was an issue of relevancy, although the hearsay rule often became intertwined with it. Meanwhile, the American Law Institute's Model Code of Evidence eliminated the hearsay objection to the admission of declarations of any person who was "present and subject to cross-examination," thus overturning one of the few rules on which the courts had agreed. Whether the Federal Rules are, in fact, less hospitable to the widespread use of prior consistent statements as substantive evidence than the Model Code is the focal point of this article. The Federal Rules, by a more complicated and circuitous route, may have reached the same result as the Model Code.

I. Introduction

II. The Iaconetti Case

III. Analysis (A–K)

IV. Conclusion