Friday, August 05, 2016

US v. Smith, No. 14-50440 (8-4-16)(Fernandez with Clifton and Friedland).  The 9th affirmed the convictions of seven members of the L.A. Police department for obstruction.  The convictions arose from the defendants acts to thwart an investigation into civil rights abuses at the L.A. jail. The thrust of this appeal focused on jury instructions, and specifically the intent. The 9th held that under 18 U.S.C. ยง 1503(a), the instructions channeled the focus on the obstruction of the grand jury and not the FBI investigation. The 9th also held that the goal to obstruct need not be the sole or primary purpose.  The 9th did caution that the characterization of the acts as "merely incidental" or "dominant" should be avoided.  However, there was no reversible error. The 9th also considered various other challenges to the jury instructions, such as the adequacy of good faith, innocent intent, and authority to investigate, but found no error or that any error was harmless.

The decision is here:


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