Wednesday, February 09, 2022

US v. Mendoza, No. 19-50092 (2-8-22)(Bea w/Berzon & Nguyen). 

A conspiracy/RICO/924c win – insufficient evidence.  The 9th vacates convictions and orders judgments of acquittal. The defendant was alleged to have been in a California gang: Canta Ranas. He admitted involvement, but said he withdrew 8 years prior. He acknowledges a meth addiction, and argued the sporadic contacts were simply to buy drugs for his own use. For example, out of 21,000 texts/calls the government had between the gang members, only 4 involved the defendant. The context was of a buyer for own use. Lacking direct evidence as to any agreement, there was also a lack of evidence presented of “prolonged and actively pursued course of drug sales” that would lead to an inference. This was true even in the light of evidence most favorable to the government. This lack holds for the conspiracy and RICO counts. It also undercuts the gun charge. An all too rare conspiracy win.

A great win for Ethan Balogh, CJA.


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