9 Akron L. Rev. 184 (1975-1976)
Criminal Law - Admissibility of Voiceprints Not Limited to Corrobrative Purposes - United States v. Franks

handle is hein.journals/aklr9 and id is 196 raw text is: AKRON LAW REVIEW

Admissibility of Voiceprints Not Limited to
Corroborative Purposes
United States v. Franks, 511 F.2d 25 (6th Cir. 1975)
O N FEBRUARY 12, 1975, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Sixth Circuit decided United States v. Franks,' affirming a district
court ruling, which permitted the use of voiceprints2 for purposes of
identification and marking the first occasion in which a circuit court had
held such evidence admissible.
Defendants Franks and Britton were convicted in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Tennessee of obstructing commerce
in violation of the Hobbs Act,3 and of 18 U.S.C. Section 2 (1970).'
The jury found the pair guilty of procuring others to bomb two Memphis
businesses, namely Jett Hair Care Center and Tri-State Beauty Supply,
whose operations affected interstate commerce. In addition, Franks and
Britton were convicted of aiding and abetting the malicious damaging
of, and the attempt to destroy the establishments by means of an explosive,
1511 F.2d 25 (6th Cir. 1975).
2 Voiceprints are photographic representations of sound waves produced by a device
called a spectograph. The voiceprint technique is based on the theory that no two human
voices are exactly alike, thus resulting in identification by comparing the voiceprint of an
unidentified person with that of an identified one. If the two prints should match, the
unidentified speaker has been determined. Although seemingly akin to fingerprint
identification, voiceprint analysis is often likened to the lie detection technique in that
the reliability depends significantly on the expertise of the examiner. Detractors of
voiceprints dispute the uniqueness of a person's voice, and alternatively question the
effects of the passing of time or impersonation in relation to the spectrogram produced.
Opponents characterize the necessary subjective spectrographic analysis as an increased
chance for error of an already questionable method of identification. See Kamine, Voice-
print Technique: The Structure and Reliability, 6 SAN DIEGO L. REv. 213 (1969); Kersta,
Speaker Recognition and Identification by Voiceprints, 40 CONN. BAR J. 586 (1966).
8 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (1970), which reads:
Whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays or affects commerce or the
movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or
attempts or conspires to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any
person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation
of this section shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than
twenty years, or both.
4 That section reads as follows:
(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels,
commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by
him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable
as a principal.

[Vol. 9:1

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