People v. Huehn, No. 00CA0505.

Docket NºNo. 00CA0505.
Citation53 P.3d 733
Case DateJanuary 17, 2002
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Peter J. Cannici, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, CO, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Peter B. Albani, Greenwood Village, CO, for Defendant-Appellant.

Opinion by Judge VOGT.

Defendant, Daniel Huehn, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of theft. We affirm.

On December 24, 1998, technicians responding to a call to service a Key Bank automated teller machine (ATM) discovered that the safe at the bottom of the machine was unlocked and the money cassettes normally found there were missing. The cassettes had been in the safe when the ATM was serviced on the morning of December 23, and customers had withdrawn money from the machine throughout that day. Computer records showed that the safe had been opened at approximately 9:30 p.m. on December 23, although there had been no call for service at that hour.

Defendant, one of the ATM technicians who had access to this machine, admitted in a written statement to his employer that he had opened the safe sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on December 23 while at the site on a call regarding another ATM. He claimed, however, that the cassettes were still in the safe at that time.


Defendant first contends that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting into evidence certain computer-generated records that were not sufficiently authenticated. We disagree.

The exhibits at issue are computer records reflecting customer transactions and technician servicing at the ATM on December 23 and 24, 1998. Four of the exhibits were records generated for Key Bank by Money Access Services (MAC), with whom Key Bank had contracted to process its ATM transactions. Defendant objected to admission of these records on the grounds that there was an insufficient foundation for their admission as business records under CRE 803(6) and the records were not authenticated in accordance with CRE 901(b)(9). The trial court overruled the objections and admitted the exhibits.

Although he did not object on this basis at trial, defendant also contends on appeal that Exhibit 14, a portion of a status tape that recorded the openings and closings of the ATM vault on a hard drive inside the machine, should have been excluded for lack of authentication.


As an initial matter, we reject defendant's contention that, because computer-generated evidence is "a species of scientific evidence," the prosecution had to make the showing required under Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C.Cir.1923), or Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993), before the evidence could be admitted. See People v. Shreck, 22 P.3d 68 (Colo. 2001)

(CRE 702, rather than Frye, governs admissibility of scientific evidence).

In support of his contention, defendant cites R. Bailin et al., Colorado Evidentiary Foundations (Miche 1997). However, that authority itself recognizes that, while presentation of scientific evidence usually requires proof of the validity of the underlying theory and the reliability of the instrument, "computers are so widely accepted and used that the proponent of computer evidence need not prove those two elements of the foundation." Colorado Evidentiary Foundations, supra, ch. 4(C)(2), at 52; see also Brooks v. People, 975 P.2d 1105, 1112 n. 7 (Colo.1999)

(rejecting view that "whenever one can find `science' by scratching beneath the surface of expert testimony, the validation rules governing scientific evidence would have to apply").

The trial court in this case properly focused its inquiry on whether a sufficient foundation had been laid to warrant admission of the proffered records under the applicable rules of evidence.


The admissibility of a computer printout is governed by the rules of relevancy, authentication, and hearsay. Benham v. Pryke, 703 P.2d 644 (Colo.App.1985), rev'd on other grounds, 744 P.2d 67 (Colo.1987). The relevancy of the computer records in this case is not disputed.

The requirement of authentication as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims. CRE 901(a). Whether a proper foundation has been established is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court, whose decision will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of that discretion. People v. Slusher, 844 P.2d 1222 (Colo. App.1992).

The hearsay objection to the admissibility of computer-generated records may be overcome by, among other methods, showing that such records are admissible under CRE 803(6), the business records exception to the hearsay rule. Material and relevant computer records are admissible under this exception if: (1) the computer entries are made in the regular course of business; (2) those participating in the record making were acting in the routine course of business; (3) the input procedures were accurate; (4) the entries were made within a reasonable time after the transaction involved; and (5) the information was transmitted by a reliable person with knowledge of the event reported. Palmer v. A.H. Robins Co., 684 P.2d 187 (Colo.1984); Benham v. Pryke, supra.


Here, Key Bank's ATM accounting supervisor testified that transactions at the bank's ATMs are electronically communicated to, and recorded by, MAC, which handles the processing of the transactions. MAC's computer-generated reports for each ATM are transmitted daily to Key Bank, stored for three months in Key Bank's computer, then transferred to fiche. The witness testified that Key Bank received and stored the records in the ordinary course of its business, and he identified the exhibits at issue as accurate copies of Key Bank's fiche record of activity at the ATM on the relevant dates.

A representative of the company that serviced Key Bank's ATMs testified similarly that the status tapes for the ATMs are kept inside the ATMs on the hard drive and automatically record each opening and closing of the safe. It was undisputed that the entries on all the exhibits were made within a reasonable time of the transactions involved.

Defendant contends that this testimony was insufficient to satisfy the requirements for admitting computer records under CRE 803(6) because (1) the first four exhibits were MAC records but were not introduced by anyone from MAC, and (2) the prosecution did not show that the computer input procedures were accurate by complying with the authentication procedure in CRE 901(b)(9). We reject both contentions.


The fact that the records created by MAC were introduced through the Key Bank officer, whose department received and kept the records, did not preclude their admission under CRE 803(6). See Hauser v. Rose Health Care Systems, 857 P.2d 524 (Colo.App.1993)

(documents created by one business but regularly received, maintained, and relied upon by another may be admitted as business records of the latter); Teac Corp. v. Bauer, 678 P.2d 3 (Colo.App.1984)(records prepared by another source that are adopted and integrated in regular course of established business procedures into records sought to be introduced are admissible under CRE 803(6), even if identity of person whose first-hand knowledge was the basis of a particular entry is not established).


Defendant also argues that, to establish the accuracy of the input procedures, the prosecution was required to proceed in accordance with CRE 901(b)(9), which permits authentication by "[e]vidence describing a process or system used to produce a result and showing that the process or system produces an accurate result." This showing was not made, he contends, because the Key Bank foundation witness admitted on cross-examination that he did not know how or when the MAC computer had been programmed, whether it had been repaired, or whether procedures were used to ensure the accuracy of the program. Nor did the authentication witness for Exhibit 14, the status list, testify that the system that generated the list produced an accurate result.

Defendant acknowledges that Colorado cases have not previously required compliance with CRE 901(b)(9) as a condition of admitting computer-generated business records. However, he cites Colorado Evidentiary Foundations, supra, for the proposition that Colorado courts have been "lax" in applying the authentication requirement to computer records, admitting them with "minimal analysis of authenticity issues," and he argues that we should require such further authentication in this case. We decline to do so.

First, although CRE 901(b)(9) may be used to authenticate computer records, there is no requirement, either in the rule itself or in Colorado case law construing the rule, that computer records be authenticated only in this way.

Second, computer business records have a greater level of trustworthiness than an individually generated computer document such as that at issue in People v. Slusher, supra,

relied on by defendant, in which a division of this court upheld the exclusion of a purported lease agreement that was apparently created by the defendant on his computer.

Finally, courts have generally declined to require testimony regarding the functioning and accuracy of the computer process where, as here, the records at issue are bank records reflecting data entered automatically rather than manually. See United States v. Moore, 923 F.2d 910 (1st Cir.1991)

(testimony by bank's loan officer was sufficient to authenticate computer-generated loan histories); State v. Veres, 7 Ariz.App. 117, 436 P.2d 629 (1968)(fact that bank's foundation witness was unfamiliar with operation of encoding machine that generated bank records did not preclude...

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