United States v. Starks (10th Cir. May 2022)

The Federal Docket

June 13, 2022

At Devonte Starks’s drug possession trial, the Government told the jury in closing that his right to be presumed innocent was gone after close of evidence. The jury convicted him, and he appealed.

The Tenth Circuit reversed, finding that it was plain error to allow the Government’s remarks. It also found that Mr. Starks’s trial was prejudiced by this error when viewed cumulatively with two others: the admission of expert testimony without Rule 702 disclosures or findings; and the Government’s improper vouching for the credibility of its witnesses in closing arguments.

Appeal from the District of Kansas
Opinion by Holmes, joined by Lucero and Phillips

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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