Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ok for judge to instruct jurors to further deliberate; prior acts testimony was admissible

U.S. v. Shippley, 2012 WL 3292413 (8/14/12) (Col.) (Published) - It was okay for the judge to tell the jurors to deliberate further to resolve an inconsistency in its verdicts where it found the defendant guilty of conspiring to distribute drugs but in special interrogatories indicated the defendant had not conspired to distribute any of the drugs listed in the indictment. Unlike in other cases of inconsistent verdicts, in this case the d. ct. couldn't give full effect to the verdicts because the inconsistency related to the same count and the same defendant. The 10th stressed it was not deciding issues the defendant had not raised, such as that the d. ct.'s actions violated double jeopardy or that the constitution required the d. ct. to interpret the verdicts with lenity towards the defendant. The d. ct. did not coerce the final verdict of guilt of conspiring to distribute 500 or more grams of cocaine where the court told the jury it could come back with the same verdicts it had already agreed on.
The 10th also held, with respect to a using-a-communication-facility-to-distribute-Percocet-pills charge, that it was okay for the d. ct. to allow testimony that the defendant sold a witness Percocet pills 20 times prior to the sale charged in the indictment. That testimony helped explain the defendant's statements recorded on a wiretap referring to "them things that you get all the time" and the quantity and price of the "things." What the defendant meant by "things" was an issue in the case, the prior sales apparently occurred within five years of the charged sale and there was little prejudice because the jury had already heard the defendant was involved in other drug-trafficking activity.
Testimony that the defendant gave a gun to a co-conspirator for his protection was sufficient to justify the possession-of-a-dangerous-weapon enhancement under ยง 2D1.1(b)(1). It was okay that the gun transfer might have occurred before the time period of the charged conspiracy. The d ct. could find the conspiracy extended to a time before the time period charged in the indictment.