Monday, August 28, 2006

US v. Larson, No. 05-30076 (8-28-06). This is written in black instead of my usual blue because it can serve as an obituary for cross-examining a cooperating witness (aka "snitch"). Okay, maybe I'm melodramatic, but this is an opinion that does constrict the right to probe bias, and to get in front of the jury the various machinations of the guidelines and sentencing. The case involves in the usual meth conspiracy. Of course, some codefendants cooperated, and got pretty good deals. On cross, defense counsel wanted to question about the deals, and sentencing. The district court limited such questioning to the maximums, and not to the minimums faced, and not about the witness's understanding. On appeal, the 9th (O'Scannlain) affirmed the rulings. The 9th reasoned that bias was probed with the maximums faced, and that there was prison involved, and that the US Atty had to move for cooperation. Indeed, defense counsel did pretty well about the effects of prison, and the virtues of a plea. Still, the 9th's limiting of cross on this issue of deals and incentives and understanding was unfortunate.

It could be taken to limit such questioning even more, especially about the intricacies of the guidelines, and expectations.. The 9th stated that the jury shouldn't be confused with does seem to run counter to the expansiveness of Crawford.Speaking of which, the 9th also held that coconspirator statements. The 9th also found that defendants sitting behind counsel, and not at counsel table, was not fundamentally unfair, but was necessitated by security and space.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody know if the 9th Circuit has any pending "honest services" cases. In the never ending struggle to give some contours to this tortured statute, that is often abused by prosecutors, other circuits have started limiting it's breath. What about the Ninth? Anybody know anything?

Monday, August 28, 2006 5:00:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home