To authenticate a document, the proponent need only prove a rational basis for the claim that the document is what the proponent asserts it to be. The standard of admissibility under Fed. R. Evid. 901 is identical to that required under Fed. R. Evid. 104(b). The question is whether the evidence would support a finding of fulfillment of the condition. It may be done with circumstantial evidence.
Long was indicted on five counts: four counts of defrauding a federally insured bank, 18 U.S.C. § 1344; and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by forging and uttering a check, 18 U.S.C. § 371. He was found guilty of all counts and was sentenced to four years for the first two counts and consecutive sentences of four years for the second two counts. The sentence on the fifth count was suspended and a term of probation, to begin after release from prison, was imposed. On appeal, Long challenged the denial of his request for a mistrial. He contended that the Government furnished the wrong record of conviction and that insufficient evidence existed to convict him. Co-defendant Jackson challenged the sufficiency of the evidence, the admission of documentary evidence without a foundation, and his counsel's effectiveness.
Was the denial of a mistrial a discretional abuse?
The Court held that the denial of a mistrial was not discretional abuse. A curative instruction was given, the mistake was not the fault of either party, and the record did not show that the Government intentionally misled the defense. Moreover, the evidence supported defendant's conviction. As to co-defendant, the jury could reasonably conclude that he participated in the bank fraud scheme. Also, the Government sufficiently authenticated the contract, which was used to bolster a witness's testimony as to what she saw. Finally, co-defendant's counsel might have been ineffective in addressing co-defendant's right to testify, and in informing the trial judge of his suspicion of perjury. Thus, co-defendant was entitled to collaterally raise both issues.