Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Lay Voice Identification Upheld

A Fifth Circuit panel has upheld the admissibility of testimony from a lay witness who opined, from his prior acquaintance with defendant's voice, that the voice on a wiretap was defendant's. In its unpublished opinion, the panel rejected any notion that voice identification testimony necessarily falls within the ambit of Fed. R. Evid. 702, and noted that Fed. R. Evid. 901(b)(5) specifically permits lay voice identification testimony. It also observed that the jurors could test the witness's identification against their own impressions. The ruling was issued in United States v. Gibbs, No. 02-50442 (5th Cir. Aug. 8, 2003) (Smith, Barksdale & DeMoss, JJ.).
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.