U.S. v. Kincaid-Chauncey, No. 06-10544 (2-20-09). The defendant was a Clark County Commissioner in Nevada, who received benefits from a strip club owner wanting zoning concessions. A principal witness had credibility issues as to what he paid to whom. Defense counsel asked about the specifics of payments and to whom. Defendant wanted to call witnesses to impeach a witness for answers elicited on defense counsel's questions. The trial court had discretion, allowed two witnesses, but denied the calling of seven others. The 9th affirmed. In an opinion by Bybee (joined by Kozinski and Berzon, who concurred on a different issue), the 9th looks to U.S. v Castillo, 181 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 1999) which states that collateral evidence, such as impeachment, can be precluded because the defense elicited the answers, and that counsel may twist the testimony (!) to get such admissions. Castillo's tortured logic is good enough for this panel. The 9th did say that Castillo is not a total bar. Here, the other witnesses were somewhat collateral. The 9th also discussed the requirement of quid pro quo in Hobbs Act extortions and in Honest Services prosecutions. The 9th holds that there must be a quid pro quo to sustain a conviction, and that it goes to specific intent, but that it need not be explicit. Berzon concurs to stress that she would require in conflict of interests honest services prosecutions as written explicit and clear conflict policy in place.
U.S. v. Renterria, No. 07-50471 (2-20-09). The 9th (Thompson joined by Pregerson and D. Nelson) affirm a conviction for an arson of a synagogue. The 9th finds that the arson of a synagogue, or house of worship, does affect interstate commerce for federal jurisdiction.