SUPERVISORY WRIT TO THE 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH
The trial court erred in finding the surveillance video not
sufficiently authenticated to be admitted at the preliminary
hearing and thereby sustaining the prosecution's
objection to the video. That ruling is hereby reversed and
the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with
trial court conducted a preliminary examination on November
16, 2016, to determine whether probable cause existed to
support charges of attempted second degree murder and
carjacking against defendant. Because of its purported
significance to the defense, the admissibility of the
surveillance video was addressed before any other evidence or
testimony. To accompany presentation of the video, the
defense called Shelby Williams,  who lives across the street from defendant
and whose video surveillance system captured defendant at,
according to Mr. Williams's testimony, times pertinent to
when the offenses occurred. During Mr. Williams's testimony, the
prosecutor objected to the video's introduction on
authenticity grounds, asserting it was inadmissible because
there was no custodian who could testify about the process by
which the video was produced. The trial court sustained the
objection, finding that the defense had not established that
the video evidence was reliable.
review, the Third Circuit denied defendant's writ, a
majority of the panel having determined that no substantial
right of defendant was affected by the trial court's
ruling, and citing La.C.E. art. 103. State v. Rice,
16-0998 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/14/17) (Cooks, J., dissents with
provided in La.C.E. art. 1101(B)(4), the specific
exclusionary rules and other provisions of the Code of
Evidence "shall be applied [to preliminary examinations
in criminal cases] only to the extent that they tend to
promote the purposes of the hearing." La.C.E. art.
1101(D), however, affords a trial court the discretion to
apply the code provisions pertaining to, inter alia,
authentication and identification at a preliminary hearing.
Therefore, even operating with the relaxed evidentiary
approach at a preliminary examination, it was within the
trial court's discretion to require that the video be
as Judge Cooks explained in her dissent, the trial court
erred in sustaining the state's objection on
authentication grounds. The requirement of authentication as
a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by
evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in
question is what its proponent claims. La.C.E. art. 901(A).
Such evidence may come in the form of testimony by a witness
with knowledge that the matter is what it is asserted to be;
indications of the item's distinctive characteristics,
including its contents, substance, internal patterns, and
other distinctive characteristics; or evidence describing the
process or system used to produce the item and showing that
the process or system produces an accurate result.
See La.C.E. art. 901(B)(1), (4), and (9).
showing was made by Mr. Williams's testimony. Contrary to
the prosecutor's objection-urging that there was no
custodian who could testify about the process by which the
video was produced-Mr. Williams explained that he had personally designed
and managed the video surveillance system at his home (for
security purposes) and knew the video at issue to be what it
was asserted to be. He also described the process and system
by which the video was created and testified to the accuracy
of that system.
emphasizing perceived issues with the video's
reliability, i.e., whether it had somehow been
manipulated, the trial judge conflated the separate issues of
authentication and reliability. Reliability is not a
prerequisite for authentication. See, e.g.,
State v. Smith, 15-1359, p. 14 (La.App. 4 Cir.
4/20/16), 192 So.3d 836, 844. Whereas authentication renders
an item admissible, the ultimate issue of its reliability is
for the fact-finder to resolve after the evidence
has been admitted. That the video at issue here has been
sufficiently authenticated so as to be admitted has no
bearing on whether the prosecution can subsequently seek to
challenge its reliability. Once evidence has been admitted,
an "opposing party 'remains free to challenge the
reliability of the evidence, to minimize its importance, or
to argue alternative interpretations of its meaning, but
these and similar other challenges go to the weight
of the evidence-not to its admissibility.'"
Id., 15-1359, p. 14, 192 So.3d at 844 (emphasis in
original) (quoting Sublet v. State, 442 Md. 632,
668-69, 113 A.3d 695, 716-17 (2015)). Accordingly, the trial
court erred in sustaining the state's objection.
though we do find that the trial court erred in excluding the
video, we emphasize that the narrow issue now before us is
the admissibility of the video at the preliminary
examination. The separate issue of its admissibility at a
possible trial is not before us at this juncture and we offer
no view as to that determination. Nor can we venture any
opinion as to the weight the video evidence should be
assigned after its admission upon remand. See La.
Const. art. V, § 10 ("In criminal cases [this
court's] appellate jurisdiction extends only to questions
 Mr. Williams is a computer engineer.
He is also the first cousin of defendant. He testified at the
hearing, however, that based on his personal views of
defendant, he was not willingly testifying or providing the
video evidence to help the defense. Rather, the video and Mr.