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United States v. Cardenas

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
864 F.2d 1528 (1989)


Facts

When Martin Cardenas (defendant) and two other men were arrested, they and their vehicle were searched. Among other things, a brown paper bag containing a plastic sack filled with a white powdery substance was found by Officer Garcia. During the trial, Officer Garcia testified that after he found the bag, he handed the brown paper bag with the plastic sack to Officer Gunter. Officer Mares testified that Officer Gunter showed the plastic sack to Officer Mares, but that Mares did not see the brown paper bag, inspect the substance, or see Officer Garcia hand the brown paper bag to Officer Gunter. Officer Garcia testified that he rode with Officer Gunter to the police station along with the bag. Once at the station, Officer Mares assisted Officer Gunter with tagging and sealing the plastic bag into an evidence bag, and Officer Gunter then carried the evidence bag to the evidence room on his own. The evidence technician testified that she did not receive a brown paper bag but that she was obligated to accept any evidence given to her. Officer Gunter’s testimony was not taken, because he committed suicide one month before the trial. After Cardenas’s conviction, he appealed on the basis that the plastic bag’s chain of custody was insufficiently established because Officer Gunter did not testify.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brorby, J.)

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