How about authenticating a tape recording?

I have a tape recording that I would like to use. I am the one who recorded it. One of the voices is clearly my own, the other, my ex’s. It is a tape filled with his violent outrage, in front of our children.

From what I have read, what I need to authenticate it is to demonstrate that I know how to operate the tape recorder and state that I myself recorded it, and that I have kept it in a locked safe box since that time. Is that all that is needed?

And what about phone calls on tape? I have plenty of those as well. Are those just authenticed the same way?

Yes, that is the proper way to authenticate both the tape recording and the phone calls.

I was reading another thread on here last night, about a man who had used a digital recorder to record his ex wife, edited out parts that definitely changed the context of what was being said. I think your answer was that the judge would be the one who decides whether it is admissable or not.

Here’s my question. I just found out how I can hook up my analog tape to my computer and use the editing sound equipment to ENHANCE the quality of the sound. I have no intention whatsoever of editing out anything, distorting anything, nothing of the sort. And yes, there is one part with me saying something I wish I had not said, but I will leave it in there, in the interest of playing fair and being able to with sincerity: I took that oath to tell the truth very seriously and have not lied once. Yes, I’d like to remove one part that does not make me look like an angel, but I’m not going to.

So how would I go about asking the judge to let me submit into evidence, and play IN court, a tape recording of this man basically losing control of himself in front of kids?

And what might his attorney protest, if I did do this?

Quick edit: How would I go about asking the judge to let me play the CD, not the tape, in court? I would have the analog tape with me, if she would like to compare the two to make sure I have not distorted the events of that horrible night. The CD, I want to play the cd, not the tape.

During your presentation of evidence, you would question your ex about the conversation on the tape. If he denies any part of what he has said, you would ask the judge to introduce the CD as an exhibit to be played in court. The judge will ask you to amplify the sound or play the recording again if he/she needs to hear it better, or again.

You may explain that the tape has been copied to the CD in order to play it in court.

His attorney may try and object, and the judge will decide if the tape comes into evidence or not.

Okay, I am confused a bit here. I should question my ex about the incident itself and if he denies any part of it, then ask to introduce the cd OR the tape? Which one?

The judge would [probably?] ask me to amplify the sound if she needs to hear it better? Then, would I be playing the tape or the cd? If you mean the tape, should I then explain that Iv’e got it copied onto a cd?

Would there be any reasonable objection to this? From what I have read, it’s perfectly legal to record conversations if you yourself are part of it, and/or in the room? Same with phone recordings. Am I right?

What would be a good reason for the judge to decide that I cannot use this tape as evidence? I got the feeling, from the way the judge spoke to me personally, in court that she really does favor him (and he’s got an attorney, I don’t . . . so I don’t know how to play the game, so to speak). I could be wrong, of course; I’m certainly feeling very, very sensitive these days, but she did give him temp custody and both he and Kathy lied, lied, lied on the stand. So what good reason would the judge have for not allowing me to use this tape? It’s the only thing that really gives an outsider a view into what this man is like, what happened in our family.

Also, couldn’t I just wait until it’s my turn to testify and then introduce the tape, or would it be to my advantage to question him, as you’re saying, and let him deny any of it, then ask to paly the tape or the CD?

Gosh, this is so confusing.

Yes, question your ex about the incident itself, and if he denies it play the CD. This will enable you to discredit his honesty on the stand and give the judge a feel for what he is really like.

Opposing counsel may object to the recording, but from the facts you list, I cannot imagine an objection would be reasonable. The recording is legal.

I cannot predict what the judge will do with the recording, she may simply not believe the incident is relevant.

Okay, thank you for that information.

I dont’ know how the judge could decide it’s not relevant. It’s not even two years old, it is the last opportunity I had to record him in person, and it clearly shows him losing absolute control of himself.

Would I ask to play the ENTIRE tape? Or the entire CD? And for that matter, would I use the CD or the tape?

As for questioning him, this tape is about fourteen minutes long. Should I question him about ONE part of the tape, and then play that part?

Use the CD, and play and try playing all of it to show his attitude in the conversation. If the judge does not allow you to play the entire CD play relevant parts, the parts he denies.

Okay, that is great advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you, so much.

Oh, one more question, although I realize this is probably overkill on this issue … it’s just that this is so intense, and it’s just maddening to see all that he has gotten away with.

I would be using the CD, right? His attorney will probably object just based on that alone . . . that it was a tape, and I may have altered it or something. How would I explain to the judge to better my chances of being allowed to play the cd? Offer to let the attorney (on his own time??) compare the two, the tape vs the CD?

The CD should be used as it is easier to find pieces of the whole. The attorney can listed to the tape if he asks.

If he wants to listen to the tape to compare it, whose time is that going to be using? Mine or theirs?

It would be during a break.

How many breaks are there? And how just how long does a perm hearing take, a ball park figure? If we both have 3.5 hours, about what would the schedule look like? I’m also wondering because of the people I am going to subpoena, to let them know. Three of them are teachers, and I know they are not going to be nuts about coming to court on a work day.

So, how many breaks? Are they scheduled, or does one side ask for them?


Breaks are determined by the judge, you will likely have at least a mid morning break, a lunch break, and a mid afternoon break. The judge will control the flow of the day. I cannot say how the day will run for sure.

I have some more questions about this recording, and I hope you don’t mind answering again if I sound redundant.

This was a violent episode. The father is clearly screaming over and over and over again in a very threatening tone of voice. My children were there.

If, for some reason, this judge refuses to allow it as admissible and relevant evidence, what then? I want to make SURE that this tape is heard. It MUST be heard, so that this judge knows, with no doubt whatsoever, that this man has rage problems and thinks nothing of behaving like this in front of my children, something I have never done. It’s violent, it’s ugly, and it is damning.

What if I want to present it as my evidence? What if the judge will not allow it?

You may attempt to introduce the tape outside of your examination, but it will be difficult to do while representing yourself.

If you had an attorney, the attorney could introduce the tape as part of your testimony when asking you questions about your experiences regarding your ex.

Acting pro-se, you will have to ask the judge if you can play the tape to illustrate your experiences with your ex.

Well, technically it would be the experiences the children have had too.

I’m wondering myself, just how does one go about testifying when you do not have an attorney? I can’t ask myself questions, so what do I do??

At this point, I have accepted that I cannot win this custody case. I’ve messed up too badly myself, and I will not be able to afford an attorney, and because I was not able to get the court order for the evaluation, I probably cannot get that done on time, either, since these people need time to schedule these appointments. I’m not even really all that worried about having an evaluation done now that I know what they are all about. The information in my files where Im going is not bad, but I have accepted it: I have lost my children.

With that in mind, knowing that I have lost, what can I do about getting this judge to realize that he also needs mental health counseling? The man has a wild, violent temper, is extremely manipulative with the kids themselves and has been diagnosed with pretty severe problems but won’t stay on medication. This judge told me that she would force him to have an evaluation done himself if I could show her something convincing her that he needs one.

I played this tape for an attorney a few months ago, when I was still kicking and screaming, trying to hang on, and this is what I was told: “If you play that tape, you run the risk of the judge deciding that neither of you is capable of caring for your children.” She was telling me NOT to use it, because it’s so bad, that bad. “If you make each other look irredeemably bad, the judge may put the children into foster care.” THAT is what I was told. I don’t want that to happen, but he does have family members who would take the kids until he could show them he had done something about his own temper.

I guess I’m just prepared to lose even my parental rights. I won’t be able to comply in time with the order for the evaluation. Bam, right there, very bad. But I want these children protected. I want them in a safe place, where there isn’t such a good possibility of someone’s irritability turning into a gigantic, dangerous fit. Somebody could get hurt.

And that is why I MUST get this tape into evidence. This judge needs to know what this man is like when he loses control.

The judge will help facilitate your testimony.
You will have to file a motion to have your ex complete a psychological evaluation and clearly state your reasons for requesting the same.