United States v. Tran, No. 05-5644-cr (2d Cir. March 10, 2008) (Sack, Sotomayor, Hall, CJJ)
Defendant Tran was stopped by customs officers while crossing the border from Canada, ostensibly to go to a casino in New York. Customs agents found several bags of pills hidden in the interior roof lining of his rented car, but Tran repeatedly denied knowing that the drugs were there.
There were more than 40,000 pills, weighing more than 10 kilograms. A chemical analysis of 29 of the pills revealed that they contained ecstasy (in concentrations ranging from 15 to 28%) and d-methamphetamine (in concentrations ranging from 5.6 to 6.9%). At trial, a DEA chemist testified that these tests accurately reflected the amount and percentage of the drugs in all of the pills.
Tran testified, and explained that he did not know that there were drugs in the car. He was convicted, and sentenced to 235 …
United States v. Brutus, Docket No. 06-2710-cr (2d Cir. October 2, 2007) (Jacobs, Walker, Calabresi, CJJ)
Waline Brutus testified at her drug importation trial. During the charge, Judge Glasser instructed the jury, in relevant part, that she had a “deep personal interest in the outcome of the case” that “creates a motive to testify falsely.”
Following in the footsteps of its recent decision in United States v. Gaines, 457 F.3d 238 (2d Cir. 2006), the court held that this instruction was error. This case is significant because there had been a tension between Gaines and United States v. Tolkow, 532 F.2d 853 (2d Cir. 1976), which upheld very similar language. Here, the court very neatly cuts through the confusion and overrules Tolkow, creating a “prophylactic rule” that any “instruction that the defendant’s interest in the outcome of the case creates a motive to testify falsely impermissibly undermines the presumption of …
Categories: charge, defendant's credibility, harmless error, presumption of innocence, Uncategorized