Archive | lay opinion

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Bonnano Republic

United States v. Massino, No. 07-1618-cr (2d Cir. October 10, 2008) (Hall, Livingston, CJJ, McMahon, DJ) (per curiam)

Patrick DeFilippo was convicted of racketeering and other offenses in connection with his involvement with the Bonnano crime family, and the district court sentenced him to forty years’ imprisonment. He challenged two evidentiary rulings, albeit without success.

1. Mobsters are Always “Guilty as Charged”

During a recorded conversation between a Bonnano cooperating witness and DeFilippo’s co-defendant, the cooperator remarked that the feds usually charged mobsters with “nine thousand six hundred and eight-four other charges.” At trial, the government asked the cooperator why he had said this and he replied “to win their confidence.” Not satisfied with this answer, however, the prosecutor went back to the subject twice more, asking him whether he knew of anyone involved in organized crime who had ever “been charged with a crime that they were not guilty …

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Categories: lay opinion, Rule 403, Uncategorized

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Saturday, October 27th, 2007

We Value Your Opinion

United States v. Tsekhanovich, No. 05-4809-cr (2d Cir. October 24, 2007) (Miner, Cabranes, Straub, CJJ) (per curiam)

Treading no new ground, the court reminds us that a lay person can give opinion testimony if it is both based on his first-hand perceptions and rationally derived from them.

Here, a cooperating witness in a fraud case was permitted to describe several conversations that he had with the defendant, and explain what he thought certain of the defendant’s comments meant. There was a solid foundation for the testimony – the witness had known the defendant for years – and the witness did not “speculate about the general knowledge or intent” of the defendant. Rather, his testimony was limited to discrete matters.

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Categories: foundation, lay opinion, Rule 701, Uncategorized

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