The defense lawyer representing a woman charged with stalking a D.C. Superior Court magistrate judge is challenging the admissibility of text and e-mail messages the government plans to introduce at trial.
D.C. solo practitioner Dorsey Jones Jr., who represents Taylar Nuevelle, said in court papers that the defense is challenging how the prosecution obtained text and e-mail messages reportedly sent to the victim, Judge Janet Albert. The year-long relationship between Nuevelle and Albert ended in September 2008, according to court papers.
Nuevelle is charged with breaking into Albert’s home in Northwest Washington and with sending harassing text and e-mail messages. Nuevelle’s trial is scheduled to begin Thursday in Superior Court. On Dec. 31, Jones filed a motion to suppress e-mails and text messages that are central to the prosecution of Nuevelle, who pleaded not guilty in May 2009.
Jones said there’s a chain of custody violation. “We have no idea when the e-mails were downloaded or how they were downloaded and whether there were any alterations or deletions,” Jones wrote. Jones said the defense is unaware of the time period of the information requested.
“We also do not know if the detective only obtained the texts he thought relevant or helpful to the government case, which, like the e-mails, is not the detective’s decision,” Jones said. (Jones' request to inspect Albert's phone and computers was denied.)
The e-mails were obtained in October 2008 from a server maintained by D.C. Superior Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Brenowitz said in court papers filed Jan. 12.
The director of Superior Court technology security, Brenowitz said, acquired the e-mails and submitted them to a D.C. detective who was assigned to the investigation. The detective, Dewey Watkins, directly download text messages from Albert’s phone, according to prosecutors.
Brenowitz said Nuevelle’s lawyer hasn’t offered a “single concrete allegation” of an altered e-mail or text. “Moreover, she has not established – nor can she – that there was a break in the chain of custody,” the prosecutor wrote in court papers.