In addition to distributing obscene films, Stagliano has been charged with providing materials that were accessible to minors in the form of a movie trailer posted on EvilAngel.com.
But when the government’s media file of the allegedly obscene material froze while being shown to the jury, the admissibility of the evidence was thrown into doubt. Prosecutors were intending to demonstrate what FBI agent Daniel Bradley saw on his laptop in a Washington hotel in 2008.
Afterwards, Leon gave both sides an hour to come up with their best reasoning why either a copy could be submitted in the original’s place or why the evidence should be thrown out.
When court resumed, prosecutor Pamela Satterfield said the original media file was now able to play in its entirety. Satterfield said that program was so sensitive that it was difficult to predict how or why it tended to fail. But in either case, the government now had a copy of the original file that played more reliably and that they could have agent Bradley testify that it was the same as the original.
Satterfield said the reason there was no sound being heard in the original file played for the jury was because the laptop in the courtroom “had a jack in the wrong hole.” However, she told the court, the sound exists on both the original and the copy files.
One of the attorneys for the defense, Allan Gelbard, argued that the copy is “glitchy” in terms of both sound and video, that the sound would drop out for a few moments and the file would also occasionally lose video frames, freezing in place while the audio continues and then catching up.
“Ms. Satterfield just admitted the program is unreliable,” Gelbard argued as a reason for throwing out the evidence.
Leon later asked Bradley if he had seen the original media file so he could testify how well it plays. Bradley replied that he’d recently seen a copy of the file.
Leon ordered a break to allow Bradley to view the government’s original media file so he could make the determination if it is the exact same thing he saw in 2008.
Under questioning by Gelbard, Bradley admitted that the original file was “glitchy” and that he also would have “no way of knowing” if it was problematic in the exact same spots and same ways when it was played in January 2008.
When the judge took arguments from both sides as to whether to keep the file in evidence, Satterfield argued that Bradley admitted the file was sustainably the same as the one he viewed.
Gelbard argued that viewing the whole trailer was a substantial issue of the case and it matters if sound or frames are missing.
In the end Leon gave the government’s attorneys a stern warning. He was “very troubled” by the government’s failure to use technology that wasn’t wholly accurate or reliable.
“I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask the government for 100 percent accuracy,” Leon said.
Court has ended for the day, with more updates tomorrow.