Nevada Supreme Court Rules on Admissibility of Text Messages


On April 5, the Nevada Supreme Court held that a lower court abused its discretion when it admitted text messages absent sufficient evidence corroborating the identity of the sender. Rodriguez v. Nevada, No. 56413, 2012 WL 1136437 (Nev. Apr. 5, 2012). The defendant was found guilty in trial court of multiple counts related to an attack on a woman in her home. On appeal he argued that the trial court erred in overruling an objection to the admission of 12 text messages because the state failed to authenticate the messages and the messages constituted inadmissible hearsay. The Nevada Supreme Court held that it is essential that the identity of the author of the text message be established through the use of corroborating evidence. In this case, although the state established that the victim’s cell phone was stolen during the attack, and that the defendant was in possession of the cell phone prior to being arrested, the state did not offer any evidence that the defendant authored 10 of the 12 messages. Two messages were admissible and were not hearsay because in those instances, the state was able to offer bus surveillance video of the defendant using the phone at the time the two messages were sent. Despite the erroneous admission of the other 10 text messages, however, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the error was harmless.