United States v. Carbone

798 F.2d 21 (1st Cir. 1986)



The government has the duty of laying a foundation that tape recordings accurately reproduce the conversations that took place and that they are accurate, authentic, and trustworthy. Once this is done, the party challenging the recordings bears the burden of showing that they are inaccurate. The decision to admit tape recordings into evidence is reversible only if the district court abused its discretion. Where a tape recording is challenged on the grounds of audibility, the question is whether the inaudible parts are so substantial as to make the rest more misleading than helpful.


Defendant was convicted of conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, aiding and abetting in the possession of half a kilogram of cocaine with intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting in the distribution of half a kilogram of cocaine. Defendant appealed his convictions, alleging that the admission into evidence of tape recordings was improper and that the district court should have conducted a post-trial in-camera hearing to determine whether a government witness had committed perjury during the trial. 


Did the district court err in convicting the defendant due to alleged errors in admitting evidence?




The court held that the tapes were properly entered into evidence and that they were audible and intelligible. The court also held that the credibility of the expert witnesses was properly left to the jury, and that the use of transcripts as a jury aid in order to follow the tape recording playbacks was proper.

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