Opinion No. 82
from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State
of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. George A. Southworth, District
of conviction for witness intimidation, solicitation to
commit witness intimidation, and violation of a no-contact
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Sally J.
Cooley, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Theodore S. Tollefson,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
Lomeli Rodriguez appeals from his judgment of conviction,
following a jury trial, for witness intimidation,
solicitation to commit witness intimidation, and violation of
a no-contact order. Specifically, Rodriguez argues the
district court erred in excluding audio of recorded telephone
calls between Rodriguez and his girlfriend, but instead
permitted translated transcripts of the calls to be read
aloud to the jury. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
and his girlfriend were involved in a physical altercation.
Police charged Rodriguez with domestic battery in the
presence of a child. A no-contact order was entered
prohibiting Rodriguez from having any contact with his
girlfriend. While in custody on the domestic battery charge,
Rodriguez repeatedly telephoned his girlfriend from the jail.
These phone conversations were recorded by the jail. During
the conversations, both Rodriguez and his girlfriend spoke in
Spanish. Rodriguez asked his girlfriend to tell the
individuals who witnessed the altercation "not to go to
court, " and Rodriguez tried to persuade his girlfriend
to get the case dismissed.
upon these recorded conversations, the State charged
Rodriguez with witness intimidation, Idaho Code §
18-2604(3); solicitation to commit witness intimidation, I.C
§ 18-2001; and violation of a no-contact order, I.C.
§ 18-920. Rodriguez was also charged with domestic
battery in the presence of children and domestic assault in
the presence of children based upon the altercation. Prior to
trial, both the domestic battery and domestic assault charges
preparation for trial, the State used a translator to
translate the recorded Spanish conversations into English.
The trial court held a pretrial hearing to determine the
admissibility of the transcripts and to decide whether the
translator was required to testify at trial. The State
acknowledged that it intended to present the translated
transcripts to the jury. Rodriguez, who admitted to having
received copies of the audio recordings and corresponding
translated transcripts, did not challenge the accuracy of the
translation. He did, however, object to the court admitting
the transcripts without requiring the State to lay a proper
foundation through the testimony of the translator, who would
not be available to testify at trial. To address
Rodriguez's concern, the court held a pretrial hearing to
allow the State an opportunity to lay a foundation for the
translated transcripts. At the conclusion of the hearing, the
court ruled the State had laid a sufficient foundation as to
the translated transcripts, but the State would still be
required to lay a sufficient foundation as to the actual
the jury trial, the State presented evidence of the content
of the recorded jail conversations by having two individuals
read the translated transcripts aloud to the jury. A male
read the part of Rodriguez while a female read the part of
Rodriguez's girlfriend. Rodriguez objected to this
procedure, stating "we object to [the transcripts] being
read to the jury because they're not being able to listen
to the audio recording." At no time were the audio
recordings played for or made available to the jury.
close of trial, the court instructed the jury to determine
what, if any, relevance the transcribed phone calls had and
whether the transcriptions were accurate. The jury returned
guilty verdicts on all three counts. The court entered ...