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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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.