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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. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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