was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm and making false
is illegal for convicted criminals to possess a weapon.
trial, the prosecution attempted to show that Dockins had been convicted
of a crime in Colorado under the name Smith.
prosecution had a fingerprint card and writing exemplars from the Smith
conviction that purportedly matched Dockins.
that Dockins had used a false name when he was arrested in Colorado.
objected to the evidence on the grounds that it had not been authenticated.
Authentication is the process where the evidence is proved to
be what the introducing party says it is.
different from admissibility.Evidence can be authenticated
and still not be admissible.
902 gives rules for self-authenticating
documents are those that are
considered authentic on their face.
records under seal are considered to be self-authenticating.
records had not been properly under seal.
901 gives examples of ways a
document can be authenticated.
no hard and fast rules, it is up to the discretion of the court.
this case, several policemen from the Denver Police Dept. testified
that the documents were genuine.
Dockins was arguing that the fingerprint card and handwriting sample were
forgeries, and that there was no way the Court could prove they were the
actual documents the prosecution claimed they were.
Trial Court allowed the documents to be admitted into evidence under FRE
Trial Court convicted Dockins.He appealed on the basis that the evidence had not been properly authenticated.
Appellate Court threw out the evidence.
Appellate Court found that only the custodian of the records could properly testify that the
documents were genuine, and that person did not testify at trial.
the policemen could do was look to see if the documents appeared
consistent with ones normally used by the Denver police.
the custodian testified, then the documents would have been properly authenticated under FRE 901.
Appellate Court found that there was plenty of other evidence to convict
Dockins anyway, so they upheld the verdict, even without the documents.