Tuesday, 10 December 2013 07:11

U.S. v. Murphy J. Painter: Alleged Misuse of Criminal History, Motor Vehicle Databases

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The case before the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana made several rulings concerning the admissibility of evidence relating to charges against Murphy J. Painter, the former Commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC). Murphy was charged with "42 counts of computer fraud, making false statements, and aggravated identity theft resulting from his alleged misuse of computerized criminal history and motor vehicle databases." according to court documents.


As Commissioner, Painter was authorized to access these databases through the Louisiana Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (LLETS). A computer located in Baton Rouge, the Law Enforcement Message Switch (LEMS), provides access to the state system.

The first 24 counts arise from Painter's alleged obtaining information about the criminal histories of six different people between June 6, 2007 and August 4, 2010 from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a nationwide computerized data system maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to court documents, "The Government alleges that Defendant input purpose code "C" each time he conducted one of these inquiries, thereby falsely representing that he had a criminal justice purpose for the inquiries. The Government alleges that Defendant knowingly transferred, possessed, and used, without lawful authority, the means of identification of the persons on which he conducted these inquiries. The indictment contains three different charges for each of the eight inquiries: computer fraud, making a false statement, and aggravated identity theft. The computer fraud charges constitute counts one through eight, the false statement charges constitute counts nine through 16, and the aggravated identity theft charges constitute counts 17 through 24."

The other 18 counts refer to Painter's alleged unlawful obtaining of data from the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) through LLETS. It is alleged he made 18 inquiries regarding OMV data between June 7, 2007 and January 30, 2010 to get driver's license information about certain people without a criminal justice purpose.

On September 17, 2013, the Court issued rulings on the Defendant's motions.

In regard to the Defendant's motion concerning whether responses to the Louisiana Office of State Inspector General (OIG) investigative report, submitted by Painter's former attorney in an unrelated matter, should be admitted under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2). The Court refused to allow the admission of these responses because it was "not convinced that this is a circumstance necessitating the admission of these responses, as the responses were submitted by the Defendant's former attorney in an unrelated civil matter, and they were submitted without the Defendant's review or consent."

The Court also ruled that the summary evidence is inadmissible because the prejudicial effect of this evidence substantially outweighs its probative value. According to court documents, "This evidence would do nothing more than inflame the jury and likely lead to a jury verdict for impermissible reasons. Admission of this evidence would substantially increase '[t]he likelihood that the jury will convict the defendant because he is the kind of person who commits this particular type of crime.' "

The Court deferred its ruling on the admissibility of testimony from ATC workers concerning the Defendant's use of the databases and directions he made to ATC employees to conduct inquires for licensing purposes until trial, when it can make individualize admissibility determinations can be made.

Finally, based on testimony from the parties in interest, court documents state that the Court "granted the motion in limine to bar the introduction of the OIG investigative report. Nevertheless, the court reserves the right to revisit this ruling if the need arises at a later time."


U.S. v. Murphy J. Painter, Ruling on Motions In Limine


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