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Booking card exception to hearsay rule

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A booking card created by law enforcement in the course of a ministerial, nonevaluative booking process is not subject to the police reports exclusion under Indiana Evidence Rule 803(8), the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.

In Stacey Fowler v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0910-CR-1037, Stacey Fowler argued that her battery victim’s booking card from a prior, unrelated arrest wasn’t admissible under the public records exception to the hearsay rule, and the introduction violated her constitutional confrontation rights. Fowler was arrested and convicted of Class B misdemeanor battery against her husband, Ricky Fowler.

Police came to the Fowlers’ home after Ricky called the police. Ricky identified himself once police arrived and said Stacey had taken his wallet. While there, Stacey pushed Ricky with both hands and he was knocked off balance. Stacey was arrested for battery, and an officer got Ricky’s wallet from Stacey’s truck and found Ricky’s photo ID. At trial, the state introduced certified “Booking information” from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department with a mugshot of Ricky with his name, date of birth, and physical description to help identify the victim because he didn’t attend the trial. One of the arresting officers testified that the person in the photo was Ricky.

The Court of Appeals judges had to look to other jurisdictions to aid in their decision that the booking would fall under the public records exception. The public records exception excludes investigative police reports when offered against the accused in criminal trials, but it does not bar admission of police records pertaining to “routine, ministerial, objective nonevaluative matters made in non-adversarial settings.”

Other courts have held the public records exception permits admission of police records created in connection with routine booking procedures, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. The booking constituted hearsay evidence because it was offered to prove that the man in the mugshot was Ricky.

“The booking card was created by law enforcement, but the biographical information on the printout was obtained and recorded in the course of a ministerial, nonevaluative booking process,” she wrote. “In line with the foregoing, we find that the exhibit fell within the ambit of Evidence Rule 803(8) and was not subject to the police reports exclusion.”

The judges also held that the booking information printout wasn’t testimonial evidence under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). It recited biographical and physical identification information obtained only for custodial purposes and wasn’t created to prove some fact at trial.

The Court of Appeals found the identification furnished by the booking card was cumulative but the alleged error was harmless. They also found any alleged error in the exclusion of Stacey’s testimony on out-of-court statements made by the arresting officers at the Fowlers’ home to be waived.  
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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