COVID-19 UPDATE: We are open! Our team is working and offering consultations in-person and also via phone, e-mail, and video conferencing.

Cryptographer Cop’s Career History Dooms Daubert Bid in Drug Appeal

An Indiana dealer’s conviction will stand after an appeals panel in the US 7th Circuit ruled that an Evanston police officer possessed the expertise necessary to decode the text messages that helped incriminate him. Maurice Gardner sought to hold Officer Cliff Simpson to the so-called Daubert Standard in light of testimony that the more than 100 text messages found on his cell phone at the time of his 2017 arrest attested to Gardner’s role in the sale of methamphetamine. The result of a 1993 ruling by the US Supreme Court, the four-prong standard is used to establish the credibility of expert witnesses.

However, Judge Richard Young in the Southern District of Indiana rejected Gardner’s request, saying that more than two decades on the beat provided Simpson the insight to divine the details of deals from message transcripts. In staying Gardner’s 20-year sentence on drugs and weapons charges, appellate judges said Simpson’s capacity for cracking the coded texts could be “reasonably inferred” from his career history. They said Young’s decision to allow his testimony jibed with federal rules of evidence, adding that interpreting the language used by traffickers fell within Simpson’s expertise on the “use and distribution of controlled substances” that Gardner contended were the limits of his scope.

The case highlights the extent to which prosecutors in the 7th Circuit, which includes Illinois, will go in pursuit of evidence in criminal cases. And, the deference paid to authorities in criminal trials. The DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorneys help clients in courts around the state, including in cases of aggressive policing. To learn more about how we craft strategies that help our clients achieve the best outcomes given the facts in their case, contact our offices Downers Grove and Downtown Chicago. This free consultation isn’t legal advice. Should you retain us, we will represent you zealously. We are your best defense.