Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Court Rejects Pro Se Appeal

United States v. Faison, No. 12-5006-cr (2d Cir. Feb. 10, 2014) (Leval, Calabresi, and Lynch) (summary order), available here

Representing himself at a jury trial, the defendant was convicted, among other things, of possessing 28 grams of cocaine base with intent to distribute. On appeal, he continued to represent himself, challenging his arrest, the indictment, and several of the district court’s trial rulings.  
This summary order affirms the defendant’s convictions. The Court ruled, first, that the federal authorities had probable cause to arrest the defendant at a state correctional facility at which he was being held, and therefore did not need a warrant to do so. The Court rejected the defendant’s claim that he was arrested under a “fraudulent warrant.”
Second, the Double Jeopardy Clause did not bar the defendant’s prosecution in federal court following his arrest by state officials. “The Double Jeopardy Clause,” the Court wrote, “does not prohibit sequential prosecutions by different sovereigns, so a prior state prosecution would not bar a later prosecution based on the same events.” Here, the defendant was never even indicted on the state charges, thus dooming his Double Jeopardy claim.
Third, the government indicted the defendant well within the time limits set  by the Speedy Trial Act. 
The Court  also upheld the district court’s trial rulings. The trial court properly admitted testimony regarding the defendant’s statements and conduct leading up a drug sale, and the defendant did not establish that any prosecution witnesses committed perjury. Further, the prosecutor did not commit any prejudicial misconduct during opening statement or summation. Finally, while the defendant challenged testimony from scientists at the Nassau County Crime Lab as untrustworthy, the Circuit ruled that any deficiencies in the testimony were harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt.
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