Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Non-Spanish Speaking Agent's ID of Defendant's Voice Admissible

U.S. v. Zepeda-Lopez, 2007 WL 625581 (3/2/07) - The 10th essentially okays the admission of any voice and visual identification by officers. An agent's identification of a voice on an audiotape as that of the defendant was admissible under Fed. R. Evid. 901(a), although the agent did not speak Spanish, which was the language on the tape. It was enough that the agent listened to the baseline tape of the defendant and heard the defendant at a pretrial hearing in court. Similarly, the agent could identify the defendant on a videotape, even though the officer was not at the scene depicted in the video. The agent's identification was corroborated by the agent's observation of the defendant in court. Didn't the agent's testimony usurp the role of the jurors who also could listen to the defendant's testimony and observe him in court, you might ask? No, the 10th says. The government didn't know the defendant would testify and expose his voice to the jury until after it presented its case in chief. And, unlike the jury, the agent reviewed the videotape "many times."