Testimony properly authenticates video

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A video showing two brothers outside a home where a drug deal occurred was properly authenticated for trial, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Brothers Constantino and Nicholas Cejas appealed their convictions for conspiring to supply Brian Denny and other individuals in Indiana with over 500 grams of methamphetamine. They argued, in part, the video recorded by a pole camera near Denny’s Terre Haute home was inadmissible at trial because it was not properly authenticated.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation filmed Constantino at Denny’s home on Feb. 8, 2011. They also recorded Constantino returning with his brother Nicholas on Feb. 14, 2011.

The second video shows the brothers arriving in a pickup truck then Nicholas walking to the back of the truck and getting into a toolbox that was attached to the bed of the vehicle. The recording also shows the brothers leaving the home and going to the toolbox before driving away.

Agents pulled the pair over and seized two guns and $8,000 in cash that was in the toolbox.

Denny testified that during the Feb. 14 visit, one of the brothers placed 4 ounces of methamphetamine in his microwave in exchange for $8,000.

On appeal, the brothers assert the video showing them outside Denny’s residence on Valentine’s Day should not have been admitted at trial because the government had not established a proper foundation to authenticate it.

The court rejected the argument in United States of America v. Constantino Cejas and Nicholas Ceja, 12-3896 & 13-1034. It pointed to trial testimony from Denny and FBI Special Agent Ed Wheele who both had the knowledge to support the finding that the video was what the government claimed.

Wheele confirmed that the pole camera was monitored throughout the investigation and was consistently producing accurate results. Also, the video was stamped with the precise date and time.

“The brothers give us no sound reason to doubt the video’s authenticity,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the court. “They do not argue, for example, that the scene depicted in the video did not occur outside of Denny’s home, or that they were not the individuals seen in the video. They fail to give us any reason to believe the video was spliced, or improperly altered in any way, or that the pole camera did not accurately record the events are they unfolded.”

Editor’s Note: The court indicates in a footnote that the brothers’ last names were spelled differently in the lower court and in their briefing before this court, the result of an administrative error. The correct spelling is Cejas. The 7th Circuit used both spellings throughout their opinion.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues