August 29, 2016 Articles

Summaries of Western Union and MoneyGram Records Properly Admitted

Seventh Circuit held that summaries of business records created in part by third parties were admissible with proper corroboration

by Michael R. Lied

United States v. Brown, 822 F.3d 966 (7th Cir. 2016), provides insight into introducing summaries of business records into evidence. In Brown, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted summaries of MoneyGram and Western Union records, even though third parties (i.e., the customers) were involved in creating the records and the records lacked certifications pursuant to Rule 902(11). Brown shows that a party can cure the hearsay problem of a third party’s involvement in creating a business record by using witnesses to testify about their recollections of the underlying transactions in a summary of business records.  

Frederick Coleman, Jerry Brown, Darrion Capers, and Nicholas Clark were convicted of drug offenses after a jury trial. The government’s theory was that Coleman and Brown obtained the cocaine, used runners at different locations to cook the cocaine into crack cocaine, and had members of the conspiracy transport the drugs from one city to another. The conspirators used Western Union and MoneyGram to circulate money among sellers, purchasers, and wholesalers. The government used subpoenas to obtain the records of the two companies showing wire transfer transactions between the defendants and others allegedly involved in the conspiracy. Before trial, the defendants filed a motion in limine to exclude MoneyGram and Western Union records that the government planned to use in its case-in-chief. The court denied the defendants’ motion in limine. 

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