Articles Tagged with Juries

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There’s been a lot of action in the federal circuits these first few weeks of the year, and here, in one post we have a lot of it.

One shout out in particular is U.S. v. Aparicio-Soria. The Fourth Circuit weighs in on resisting arrest. Is it always a crime of violence? Surely not, but, well, it takes a while for things to get to that point.

Congratulations Sapna Mirchandani for a nice win!

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It’s very fashionable these days for United States Attorney’s Offices to bring large indictments charging many people with involvement in a drug conspiracy.

They almost always get convictions.

381260_conspiracy.jpgYet in the case of United States v. Gaskins, the D.C. Circuit – in an opinion written by a former federal prosecutor – ruled that the United States Attorney’s Office indicted, and a jury convicted, a man for being a part of a drug conspiracy when no reasonable juror could have found that he was involved.

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Imagine you were going to a professional meeting. Maybe it’s a weeklong off-site skills training for work. Maybe it’s an odd kind of a conference in your hometown. You’ll be at some strange new location during the day, then go home at night.

1254520_teamwork__1.jpgAt the start of the exercise, people seem interested in you. They ask you a lot about yourself. But then, at some point, you’re given a seat and told to just sit, watch, and learn.

Next, the woman who is leading the training reads to you from a list of instructions that she had prepared in advance. You are not allowed to ask questions. Your fellow participants aren’t allowed to talk about the instructions.

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Joseph P. Collins was charged with securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and conspiracy. He went to trial and, we can imagine, spent weeks – possibly months – working with his lawyers to diligently defend himself and his rights. His trial took twenty-two days of testimony – more than four weeks in a federal courtroom.

Finally, it was messed up by two maladjusted jurors and a judge who wanted to handle things alone.

1330873_courthouse.jpgWe are all bit players in each other’s lives. Everyone understands that. In Mr. Collins’ case, however, it’s not unlike a world where Rosencrantz and Gildenstern decide that they’d rather kill Hamlet than travel with him.

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So often the difference between doing something normal and committing a crime is what’s in someone’s mind. White collar crimes turn on intent – mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, and bank fraud all look to what was in the mind of the person accused of the crime.

Yet, intent is also a hard bit of evidence to secure. Unless there’s a smoking gun document – which is ever more likely in this age of email – there is no direct evidence of intent in most cases.

And, ultimately, what a person accused of a crime intended is a question for the jury. As an NACDL article on the topic notes, we know that Martha Stewart was thinking because a jury says we did.