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United States v. Pool

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant Loye, and seven other defendants were charged and convicted for importing marijuana into the United States. A key piece of evidence used against Defendant Loye on one count was a phone call with a DEA agent.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The standard of admissibility of voice identification is prima facia and circumstantial evidence may be used.

    Facts. Defendant Loye along with seven other defendants was convicted of several charges relating to importing 225,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Defendant Loye was convicted of one count for using a telephone to facilitate illegal importing of drugs. The Defendant appeals arguing the phone call was not properly authenticated. The phone call was received by DEA Agent Starratt. The caller identified himself as “Chip,” which was the nickname used by Defendant throughout the investigation. The conversation was not recorded and Agent Starrat had never met Chip.

    Issue. Was the phone call properly authenticated to be allowed into evidence?

    Held. Justice Hill issued the opinion for the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in reversing the conviction and holding that the phone call was not properly authenticated.

    Discussion. There was no evidence offered to proved that the DEA agent actually heard the Defendant’s voice. The two had never met and no voice comparisons were used. It is certainly possible that someone else was using Defendant’s nicknam.


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