Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not Every Document Kept By A Business Qualifies as a Business Record Under CPLR 4518

In People v Manges ( __ AD3d__, 2009 NY Slip Op 08258 [4th Dept 11/13/09]), the Court reversed and dismissed convictions for Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Grand Larceny which were predicated on a computer printout of electronic data that was displayed on a computer screen when defendant presented a check, the allegedly forged instrument, to a bank teller, that should not have been admitted into evidence.

The People failed to establish that the printout falls within the business records exception to the hearsay rule (see CPLR 4518 [a]), which applies here (see CPL 60.10). The People presented no evidence that the data displayed on the computer screen, resulting in the printout, was entered in the regular course of business at the time of the transaction (see CPLR 4518 [a]). Indeed, the bank teller who identified the computer screen printout testified that "anyone [at the bank] can sit down at a computer and enter information." Because the computer screen printout was the only evidence establishing the identity of the purported true account owner upon which the check was drawn, we conclude that the evidence is legally insufficient to support the conviction (see generally People v Bleakley, 69 NY2d 490, 495).

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