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United States v. Biggins

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant, Ulysses Biggins, was convicted for possessing and distributing heroin. A crucial piece of evidence in the case against him was a tape recording.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Offering evidence proving the accuracy of a tape recording is necessary to allow the recording to be admitted into evidence.

    Facts. Clarence Lydes was a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Defendant Biggins met Lydes at a bar and discussed obtaining illegal drugs. Defendant told Lydes to contact him through Bertha Coudgo. Lydes went to Coudgo’s apartment to purchase drugs from the Appellant and was told to return on the following day. The Defendant did not show on the following day. Lydes and DEA agent Audis Well returned to Coudgo’s apartment several days later at which time Defendant agreed to sell Lydes one ounce of heroin at Lyde’s apartment later that day. During the transaction, the conversation between Defendant and Wells was recorded. During trial the government admitted the tape recording of the conversation.

    Issue. Was the government’s foundation for admitting the tape recording deficient because it failed to satisfy the McMillan test?

    Held. Justice Goldberg issued the opinion for the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in holding that the district court was correct in admitting the sound recording into evidence.

    Discussion. The Court of Appeals noted that establishing facts that show the accuracy of the recording are more important than a formalistic procedure for admitting evidence.


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