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United States v. Crawford

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi

November 28, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOE CRAWFORD

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court in this criminal action is Joe Crawford's motion in limine. Doc. #42.

         I Procedural History

         On August 23, 2018, Joe Crawford was indicted on three counts of selling firearms to felons, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(d) and 924(a)(2). Doc. #1. On November 20, 2018, Crawford filed a motion for leave to file a motion in limine regarding the use of certain transcripts at trial. Doc. #37. The Government did not respond to the motion for leave. Rather, it filed a response to Crawford's proposed motion in limine, which was attached as an exhibit to the motion for leave. Doc. #38.

         On November 26, 2018, this Court granted Crawford's motion for leave and allowed him until November 27, 2018, to file a reply to the Government's response. Doc. #40. Crawford filed his motion in limine on November 26, 2018. Doc. #42. He did not file a reply within the time allowed.

         II Standard of Review

         Motions in limine “allow the trial court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and relevance of certain forecasted evidence.” Harkness v. Bauhaus U.S.A., Inc., No. 3:13-cv-129, 2015 WL 631512, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Feb. 13, 2015). Although neither the Federal Rules of Evidence nor the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure “explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials.” Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984). As is true with motions in limine in civil cases, [1] a motion in limine in a criminal case should only be granted if the challenged evidence is shown to be inadmissible on all possible grounds. United States v. Gibson, No. 2:17-cr-126, 2018 WL 4903261, at *2 (E.D. Va. Oct. 9, 2018); see United States v. Kistner, No. 2:11-cr-283, 2013 WL 80255, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 7, 2013) (denying motion in limine where defendants “failed to demonstrate … that such evidence is clearly inadmissible on all possible grounds”).

         III Analysis

         In his motion in limine, Crawford seeks to exclude numerous transcripts of telephone calls between himself and a confidential human source. Doc. #42 at 2. Crawford argues that the transcripts are inadmissible because they violate the best evidence rule and because the quality of the underlying recordings do not justify the use of transcripts. As an alternative to exclusion, Crawford asks that the jury be provided “an appropriate limiting instruction, ” a proposed version of which Crawford submitted separately to the Court.

         A. Best Evidence Rule

         Crawford first argues that the transcripts are inadmissible because “the audio recordings are the best evidence to present to a jury per [Federal Rules of Evidence] 1002 and 1003.” Doc. #42 at 2.

         Federal Rule of Evidence 1002, also known as the “best evidence rule, ”[2] provides that “[a]n original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove its content unless these rules or a federal statute provides otherwise.” Rule 1003 directs that, in satisfying this rule, “[a] duplicate is admissible to the same extent as the original unless a genuine question is raised about the original's authenticity or the circumstances make it unfair to admit the duplicate.”

         “When the original tape is available and presented to the jury and the accuracy of the transcript has been stipulated or is made an issue for the jury to decide, concerns addressed by the best evidence rule are not at issue.” United States v. Chaney, 299 Fed.Appx. 447, 455 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v. Holton, 116 F.3d 1536, 1545 (D.C. Cir. 1997)). Here, there is no indication that the original tape will be unavailable or not presented to the jury. Furthermore, while it does not appear the accuracy of the transcripts has been stipulated, any questions of accuracy will be presented to the jury.[3] Accordingly, the best evidence rule does not require exclusion and Crawford's contention to the contrary is rejected.

         B. Use ...


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