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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Facebook Posts Used As Evidence at Trial

In another installment of "be careful what you post," a federal appeals court convicted a Chicago man for illegal gunrunning based, in part, on evidence the man posted on Facebook. U.S. v. Lewisbey (7th Cir., 12/9/16).

Lewisbey was a Chicago-based gunrunner who used a fake Indiana ID to buy guns at Indiana gun shows and bring them back to Illinois to sell.  After discovering Lewisbey's Facebook posts bragging about his gunrunning exploits, federal agents set up a sting and arrested and charged him with unlawfully transporting and dealing firearms. He was convicted by a jury.

Lewisbey appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing, among other things, that his Facebook posts and text messages should not have been admitted at trial.  He claims they should have been excluded as hearsay and because they were not properly authenticated.

The 7th Circuit rejected Lewisbey's arguments. First, and most importantly, Lewisbey admitted at trial that the admitted Facebook posts were made by him. In addition, his Facebook page listed his nickname, date of birth, and his place of residence. The email address associated with his Facebook page was linked to Lewsibey's iPhone. The Facebook page included 100s of photos of Lewisbey. Finally, messages on his Facebook page specifically discussed Lewisbey's trips to gun shows in Indiana on dates where gun shows actually occurred. In short, the court found adequate evidence to support the trial court's admission of the Facebook evidence at trial. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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