In United States v. Fernandez et al., Docket No. 14-4158-cr (L), a summary order issued today, the Circuit principally reaffirms the longstanding rule that “a conviction can be sustained on the basis of testimony from a single accomplice, so long as the testimony is not incredible on its face and is capable of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Order at 3 (citing United Sates v. Diaz, 176 F.3d 52, 92 (2d Cir. 1999)). Fernandez’s conviction (for conspiring to commit murder-for-hire, and for using a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of that conspiracy) was secured principally on the testimony of his cousin and co-defendant Darge. Testifying pursuant to a cooperation agreement, Darge told the jury that members of the Minaya drug organization hired him to murder two of its drug suppliers (Cuellar and Flores) for $180,000; that he recruited his cousin Fernandez to help him with the …
United States v. White, No. 11-772-cr (2d Cir. August 30, 2012) (Jacobs, Calabresi, Pooler, CJJ)
Here, a divided circuit panel concluded that two evidentiary errors prejudiced the outcome of Lance White’s felon-in-possession trial. The court vacated the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.
1. Erroneous Preclusion of Others Arrests and Charging Decisions
The case involved the stop of a minivan that contained White and four women. Officers found three firearms, one supposedly in White’s right front pocket. Two others were recovered from a purse belonging to one of the women, Jennings. Initially, all five individuals were charged in state court with possessing all three guns. Eventually the state dropped all charges against three of the women. For Jennings, the state pursued charges only for the guns in her purse. Over White’s objection, the district court granted the government’s motion to preclude White from introducing evidence of …
Categories: credibility, right to present a defense; Rule 403, Uncategorized
United States v. Truman, Sr., No. 11-784-cr (2d Cir. 2012) (Livingston, Lohier, CJJ, Rakoff, DJ)
Jeffrey Truman, Sr., recruited his son, Jeffrey Truman, Jr., to burn down a building that Truman Sr. owned in Oneida, New York. The was in dire financial straits and the property had a very large insurance policy.
Truman Sr.’s odyssey through the legal system began in state court, where he was tried on arson and fraud charges. That case was dismissed because the state court could not corroborate Jr.’s testimony, as required under state law.
The feds then took up the case, which went to trial after Jr. signed a cooperation agreement. At trial, however, Jr. balked. While he described his own role in setting the fire, he steadfastly refused to implicate his father. This prompted the government to introduce, over objection, portions of Jr.’s testimony from Sr.’s state court trial, in which Jr. confirmed …