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U.S. v. De Georgia

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Citation Edit

United States v. De Georgia, 420 F.2d 889 (9th Cir. 1969) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The defendant was charged with transporting a stolen Hertz rental car across state lines.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

His written confession was introduced at trial by the prosecution, prompting the court to note that a confession alone does not constitute adequate proof of the offense.[1] The prosecution, therefore, called a Hertz security manager to the stand. This witness testified that, based upon the computer information with which he was furnished, the vehicle in question was not out for rent at the time it was reported missing. Without such testimony, the defendant could only have been charged with a lesser crime.

The defendant contended that the fact that the car was not being rented was an assertion by the individuals who programmed the computer, and, since these people were not available as witnesses, the evidence was inadmissible hearsay. The defendant further contended that, even if the evidence were admissible, it would only show which vehicles had been rented. The fact that the vehicle in question was not on the records, defendant argued, could not by implication prove that it was not rented out.

Responding to the defendant's contentions, the court first noted that under 28 U.S.C. §1732,[2] regularly maintained business records are admissible, because, "the circumstances that they are regularly maintained records upon which the company relies in conducting its business assures accuracy not likely to be enhanced by introducing into evidence the original documents upon which the records are based."[3]

In answer to defendant's second contention, the court held that the fact that these records are maintained as part of the regular course of business "offers a like assurance that if a business record designed to note every transaction of a particular kind contains no notation of such a transaction between specified dates, no such transaction occurred between those dates.[4]

The court therefore concluded that the testimony was admissible to show that the vehicle had not been rented out, and the conviction was [[affirmed].


  1. The general rule is that an accused may not be convicted on his own uncorroborated confession. Opper v. United States, 348 U.S. 84 (1954) (full-text).
  2. The relevant language of that statute is:
    In any court of the United States and in any court established by an Act of Congress, any writing or record whether in the form of an entry in a book or other vase; made as a memorandum or record of any act, transaction, occurrence, or event, shall be admissible as evidence of such act, transaction, occurrence, or event, if made in the regular course of any business, and if it was at the time of such act, transaction, occurrence, or event or within a reasonable time thereafter.

    28 U.S.C. §1132(a) (1976).

  3. 420 F.2d at 893.
  4. Id.

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