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7th Circuit: Drug convictions stand

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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.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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