Can the Court Deny the Admission of a Copied Videotape Based on a Failure to Explain Copying Procedure

In the Maryland Supreme Court case of Washington v. State, 406 Md. 642, 961 A.2d 1110 (2008), the court held, based on a failure to explain copying procedure, that the State had laid an insufficient foundation for the admission of a videotape. An eight-camera surveillance system at a bar made the original visual recording at issue. An unknown employee of the security company that maintained the cameras copied the relevant data from whatever storage device it was on at the bar to a CD-ROM. (The court viewed a VHS videotape copy of the CD-ROM, but the parties stipulated that the tape was an accurate copy of the CD-ROM.) In Washington, the lack of evidence about how the recording was transferred from the original storage device to another medium rendered the foundation incomplete. In Commonwealth v. Leneski, 66 Mass. App. 291, 846 N.E.2d 1195 (2006), a Massachusetts appellate court held that the Commonwealth had laid a sufficient foundation for a CD copy of a DVR surveillance recording when the person making the transfer explained the process. The owner of the store where the recording was made "viewed the images on the computer and 'burned' the CD copy; he testified as to the procedure he used in the surveillance process, the copying process, and to the contents of the CD." Leneski, 66 Mass. App. at 295, 846 N.E.2d at 1199. Any further questions about the reliability of the recording went to the weight, not the admissibility, of the evidence. Leneski, 66 Mass. App. at 295, 846 N.E.2d at 1199.