The Unlisted Number


Charge: knowingly transporting in interstate commerce a stolen vehicle in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2312. At trial, D concedes that the automobile was stolen at the time of interstate transport but denies that he knew it was stolen. The government's first witness, W, an FBI agent, testified that at the time of arrest, D told him that he had bought the automobile from "Bill Holt" of "Bill Holt's Body Shop" on the west side of Chicago. The agent also attempted to testify that he had checked the Chicago telephone directory for the area and that there was no listing for "Bill Holt," "Bill Holt's Body Shop," "Bill Holdt," "Bill Hult," or any other reasonable spelling variation of those names. D objected to the agent's testimony on grounds of Rule 1002. The court ruled that the rule does not apply to testimony that books or records have been examined and found not to contain any reference to a designated matter.

Is the court's ruling correct?

Recall Problem IX-6, The Unregistered Gun. Would a best evidence rule objection lie to oral testimony or the introduction of an affidavit that a search of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record did not reveal any registration of the defendant's firearm? How does the evidence in that problem differ from the evidence of no telephone number in this case?

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