U.S. v. Font-Ramirez – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In U.S. v. Font-Ramirez, 944 F.2d 42 (1st Cir. 1991), the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected the appellant's argument that the prosecution should have been prohibited from introducing a transcript that -- according to the appellant -- "purported to transcribe passages that were unintelligible on the tape... transcribed by a federal Drug Enforcement Agent, who may have filled in inaudible portions of the tape with his memories of the conversations." Id. at 48.

The Font-Ramirez Court stated:

The objectivity of the transcriber of a tape obviously bears on the decision whether or not to admit a transcript into evidence. The tape recording and not the transcript is evidence in the case. The transcript should, therefore, mirror the tape and should not be an amalgam of the recording and the hearsay testimony of persons present at the conversation. Where inaccuracies in the transcript combine with possible bias in the transcription process, a transcript may be excluded from evidence. See United States v. Robinson, 707 F.2d 872, 877-78 (6th Cir. 1983). The touchstone, however, is the accuracy of the transcript. Because Font-Ramirez did not offer an alternative transcript and did not point out any specific inaccuracies in the government's transcript, the district court was within its discretion in allowing its use. See United States v. Devous, 764 F.2d 1349, 1355 (10th Cir. 1985). (Id.)