Evidence

The Federal Docket

United States v. John Buncich (7th Cir. June 2019)

The Court held that there was ample evidence that the money paid to the defendant-sheriff’s campaign was more than a “campaign contribution,” and that they were in fact made in exchange for “official acts,” where the evidence showed that the awarding and revoking of contracts directly corresponded to the bribes being paid.The Court also held that the district court erred in admitting Rule 404(b) evidence regarding the deposit of a substantial amount of money in the defendant’s bank account since this evidence was unduly prejudicial and provided limited probative value, especially since the amount deposited was more than double the amount of bribes taken in.

United States v. Samir Benamor (9th Cir. June 2019)

The Court held that the “antique firearm defense” was an affirmative defense as opposed to an element of the 922(g). The Court acknowledged that it remains an open question whether the “antique firearm defense” is objective, meaning that the age of the firearm alone determines the availability of the defense, or whether the defense is subjective, meaning the defense applies when a defendant reasonably believes the firearm was manufactured before 1899.

United States v. Jambulat Tkhilaishvili, et al. (1st Cir. June 2019)

The First Circuit rejected the defendants’ argument that the Government had failed to prove that the defendants had “obtained” property from another because the investor’s interest was intended for a friend and not the defendants. The Court also rejected the defendants’ argument that the investor’s interest in the clinic was not “property” under the Hobbs Act because it was not profitable at the time of the attempted extortion and that a “heightened showing” of an effect on interstate commerce is required when the victim is an individual rather than a business.

United States v. Jeffrey Cooper (11th Cir. June 2019)

Sixth Amendment/Confrontation Clause – There was no confrontation clause violation when law enforcement agent testified that the victims refused to testify because they feared humiliation since their statements regarding why they would not testify were not testimonial. However, the mens’ reasons for visiting the defendant’s apartment were testimonial statements since they were made in response …

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United States v. Bechir Delva, Dan Kenny Delva (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Court affirmed the defendants’ convictions, holding, among other things, that there was probable cause to justify warrantless search of the defendant’s vehicle where officers could tie the vehicle to identity fraud, the defendant’s repeated use of an access device to obtain benefits reflected knowledge that the access device belonged to a real person, the government was allowed to use a detective as an expert witness on common slang terms in identity fraud cases, and the district court properly applied a firearm enhancement.

United States v. Paul Harris

United States v. Paul Harris, No. 18-12418 (February 19, 2019) The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a prison guard defendant’s conviction for Hobbs Act extortion based on evidence that he confiscated contraband from inmates for his personal use and that the inmates “consented” by not reporting the defendant out of fear that they would be punished for …

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United States v. Robert Barton (11th Cir. December 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting an expert’s testimony concerning DNA evidence where the expert’s methodology was reliable and any abuse of discretion was harmless. The Court also declined to consider new evidence that only became available after the defendant’s conviction.

United States v. Tremane Carthen, et al. (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the convictions of two defendants who were sentenced under § 924(c), holding that the district court did not err in admitting hearsay testimony from a co-conspirator or in excluding specific instances of the co-conspirators prior lies to impeach him, and that the mandatory sentencing scheme in § 924(c) was constitutional.

United States v. Alexis Hernandez (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, holding that the Rules of Evidence do not apply in § 851 hearings, and that the district court did not plainly err in applying the preponderance of evidence standard where the evidence established the defendant’s prior conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

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