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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 118402 Find in a Library
Title: Evidence -- Voice Spectrography -- Reliability of Voiceprints Not Established, Therefore Inadmissible -- Windmere, Inc. v. International Insurance Co.
Journal: Seton Hall Law Review  Volume:18  Issue:2  Dated:(1988)  Pages:405-420
Author(s): M S Fletcher
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 16
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The admissibility of voice spectrography, or voiceprint analysis, as evidence in courts is assessed.
Abstract: In Windmere versus International Insurance, a New Jersey court considered the issue of voiceprint admissibility, based on a 1982 incident in which the West Milford Police Department recorded an anonymous phone call reporting a restaurant fire. The anonymous caller turned out to be the restaurant's maintenance man who was at the scene of the fire moments after the blaze began and who admitted he had purchased gasoline for restaurant use 3 days prior to the fire. During the fire investigation, police discovered a plastic container that had gasoline residue in it. Windmere filed a claim with its insurer, International Insurance, but the insurer refused to pay the claim because it felt Windmere was either directly or indirectly responsible for the fire. The court held an evidentiary hearing to determine the admissibility of the police's voiceprint of the maintenance man's call. The trial judge ruled that voice spectrograms were reliable and thus admissible when offered with both expert testimony and aural evidence of the exemplar and recorded tape for the jury's comparison. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the insurer, and this verdict was affirmed on appeal. The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the verdict but held that the reliability of voice spectrography had not been established and that voiceprint analysis was inadmissible. The Supreme Court appeared hesitant to allow the admissibility of any novel scientific technique without a showing of reliability in terms of general acceptance in the scientific community. 283 references.
Main Term(s): Spectroscopy
Index Term(s): Rules of evidence; Voice identification
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