ILNews

7th Circuit: Drug convictions stand

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed drug convictions against two defendants, holding the lower court didn’t err in admitting a police officer’s voice identification testimony regarding one of the defendants.

In United States of America v. Rosalio Cruz-Rea and Zoyla Garcia-Rea, Nos. 09-3591, 10-1355, Rosalio Cruz-Rea and Zoyla Garcia-Rea appealed their convictions of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine; Cruz-Rea was also convicted of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The two were involved in a shipment of cocaine from out west to Indianapolis that was under investigation by authorities. Cruz-Rea had numerous recorded telephone conversations in Spanish discussing drug activities; Garcia-Rea was arrested after police pulled over a vehicle for not having a license plate light. Police were tipped off by an informant that the car may be carrying drugs. Garcia-Rea admitted the gift-wrapped packages in the car contained cocaine.

Cruz-Rea appealed the decision that allowed officer Marytza Toy to testify that she recognized Cruz-Rea as a speaker in the recorded telephone calls based on her repeated listening to a recording of Cruz-Rea’s booking process. He claimed the government didn’t lay sufficient foundation to allow it under Federal Evidence Rule 901(b)(5). The 7th Circuit held that the witness had met its interpretation of the standard required of “minimal familiarity” with the voice. Given the length of the voice example she listened to and the number of times she listened to it, the District Court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the government laid sufficient foundation for her testimony. The government also had two witnesses testify as to having the exact conversations on the recordings, wrote Judge William Bauer.

The defendants also challenged the admittance of the government’s transcripts of the 24 wiretapped phone conversations, that the jury could use transcripts that identified the alleged speakers by name, and that the jury could view the transcripts during deliberation. Focusing on the argument about a jury instruction before the transcripts were admitted, the 7th Circuit noted that although the District Judge could have phrased the instruction differently, it sufficiently informed the jury of the law and their role.

“We find that an instruction informing the jury to consider only the transcripts before it, as opposed to fashioning its own translation, cannot be read as an instruction to treat the transcripts as the evidence. This instruction did not misstate the law, mislead the jury, omit relevant portions of the law, or unduly emphasize any part of the evidence,” wrote Judge Bauer.

The 7th Circuit also affirmed admitting non-hearsay co-conspirator statements, Cruz-Rea’s offense level increase, and that the police officer that pulled over Garcia-Rea’s car had probable cause to search the car.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT