Evidence keyed to Waltz
United States v. Saelee
The defendant was indicted on three counts of violating the federal drug laws. The third count alleged that the defendant imported opium from Thailand in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section:Section: 952 and 960(b)(3). The opium was concealed in Butterfinger candy bars that were express mailed from the United States. A forensic document analyst with the United States Postal Inspection Service National Forensic Laboratory compared “hand printing exemplars provided by defendant with the hand printing on the address labels on the packages in question.” The expert concluded that the defendant was the writer of one of the writings and probably the writer of the other. The government sought to have the expert testify to his conclusions at trial and the defendant filed a motion to exclude all of such testimony. Accordingly, the court scheduled a Daubert hearing and ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefs. The government, in its supplemental brief, proposed that its expert would only testify about the similarities and differences between the known writings and questioned documents, and not about his ultimate conclusions as to whether the defendant was the author of the documents. The government argued that F.R.E. Rule 701, which govern the admissibility of lay opinion testimony, allows for the admission of comparison evidence. The defendant after initially consenting to this line of testimony, argued that the only way this testimony would be admissible is under F.R.E. Rule 702, which governs the admissibility of expert testimony. As such, the defendant argued that a Daubert hearing would have to be held. The court agreed, and a Daubert hearing was held. At the hearing, the government argued that is expert’s testimony was admissible under F.R.E. Rule 901, which concerns the authentication and identification of evidence. After the hearing, the District Court held that the hand printing comparison evidence would be excluded at trial.
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