Archive for November, 2010

Audio Evidence

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

chain of custodyAudio evidence can include but is not limited to confidential informant recordings, confession recordings, telephone intercept, voice mail and 911 calls. The goal of the forensic examiner is to be sure a chain of custody has been maintained like any other evidence and that the original recording is used as evidence and not a copy.

This was important back when analogue audio recordings were primarily used as evidence.  It is especially important today with digital audio being the primary format for audio evidence.  Once the digital audio file has been burned to a CD, it is no longer considered an original because it has been removed from its native environment (computer or pocket digital recorder). Furthermore, the audio file can be authenticated when it is in its original environment.

There is no reason that an original digital audio recording cannot be preserved when a legal proceeding is expected or may occur.  The rationale that it is ok to erase or delete the original so the recording equipment, in the case of a digital pocket recorder, could be reused is not a logical thought process. In many cases, this could be considered as spoliation of evidence.  A CD copy is not original because once the audio recording is removed from its native environment; the audio evidence is vulnerable to alteration and editing.  Often times, this alteration can go undetected even by an experience audio forensic expert. This is why preserving the original file of the audio evidence is extremely important.

Whether you are law enforcement presenting a confidential informant or confession audio recording, a private individual presenting a voice mail or concealed audio recording, always preserve the original recording so there is no doubt of the authenticity and integrity of the audio recorded evidence.  Consult an experienced audio forensic expert to assist you in authenticating the audio evidence for a fair and accurate representation of the facts as they occurred in their original environment.

Audio Evidence and State Public Defenders

Monday, November 8th, 2010

State Public DefendersI have a great deal of respect for State Public Defenders. They are lawyers who practice law for people who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance. The State Public Defender coordinates accused citizen’s legal representation to indigent people who are accused of a crime. Some cases include juvenile and others include others on appeal in cases where they have already been found guilty. Many clients of State Public Defenders are on death row. Legal representation provided by State Public Defender Offices or through private attorneys who contract with the State Public Defender or who are appointed by the Court is held in high regard by this audio forensic expert.

As a forensic expert, I have assisted state public defenders in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Iowa. The cases I assisted in had audio evidence that was used against their client. In many of these cases prior attorneys did not understand the processes involved with audio evidence and were not aware of how a forensic expert can help.

When I am contacted by a State Public Defender, I often begin our relationship on a pro bono basis. I believe that public defenders are a strong element in our countries “Due Process” system. Most other legal proceedings both civil and criminal treat defense guilty until proven innocent, but that’s another story.

Public defenders are about the most unbiased government employees left in the legal system and a very valuable asset to those who either have been convicted or are about to be convicted. Many clients of State Public Defenders are given another chance they would have not had in other circumstances.

The character of State Public Defenders is very professional and second to none. They exemplify true professionalism in a non self-serving capacity.

If you are reading this blog post and feel your audio evidence was not presented properly and you were not given a fair and partial trial, I suggest you contact your State Public Defender for more information.


photo credit: Courtroom via photopin (license)