Sunday, November 17, 2019

Tenth Circuit Breviaries

Last week at the Tenth Circuit:

Fourth Amendment

Must border searches of personal electronic devices be supported by reasonable suspicion? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, there was reasonable suspicion for such a search in United States v. Williams

(Non)admissibility of exculpatory suicide note

In United States v. Hammers, the district court excluded a coconspirator's suicide note, in which the author took full responsibility for the charged fraud. The Tenth Circuit affirmed.

First, the statements in the note were not admissible as statements against interest under Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(e), because (1) the author "had no intention of sticking around to face criminal prosecution"; and (2) the statements were not sufficiently corroborated.

Second, the statements were not admissible under the residual hearsay exception in Fed. R. Evid. 807, because the note did not offer sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness.

Third, the statements were not admissible under the defendant's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to present a defense because the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the note.

Sufficiency of evidence

In Hammers, the Tenth Circuit also rejected the defendant's argument that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Here the Court reminds appellate practitioners that it will resist arguments asking the Court "to weigh conflicting testimony or evaluate the credibility of the witnesses."

Prosecutorial misconduct

The Hammers Court also rejected the defendant's claims of prosecutorial misconduct, holding that even if the government made improper statements, those statements did not prejudice the defendant.

Obstruction of justice, USSG 3C1.1

In Hammers, the Tenth Circuit reviews the elements of the obstruction-of-justice enhancement, and finds them met in this case. Read Hammers for a reminder of these elements.

Disruption of governmental function, USSG 5K2.7

Finally in Hammers, the Tenth Circuit held that a defendant convicted of embezzling federal program funds may be subject to an upward departure for disrupting a governmental function over double-counting objections (and the departure was factually supported here).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.