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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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