Thursday, May 14, 2015

United States v. Gonzalez, No. 13-50348 (Smith, DJ (RI) with Wardlaw and Berzon) --- The Ninth Circuit affirmed a conviction for committing a violent crime in aid of a racketeering organization, holding that the jurors did not need to unanimously agree on the particular overt acts supported a murder conspiracy so long as they all agreed that at least one overt act supported the conspiracy.
The defendant was a member of a gang charged with conspiracy to murder rival gang members in violation of California law.  The evidence supporting the charge was mainly wiretaps in which the defendant and other gang members talked about killing different members of different rival gangs on different days.  The jury was instructed that they must be unanimous about the intended target or targets of the murder, but not the particular overt acts involved.  The court held that there was no abuse of discretion; the specific unanimity instruction here ensured that the jury agreed on a particular conspiracy (i.e., a conspiracy to murder a particular person), and three other circuits had held that unanimity was not required with respect to the overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy targeted at a particular person.

The decision is here:


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