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Monday, November 15, 2010

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In U.S. v. Lorenzo Tavarez (SD Ind., Judge Lawrence), an 8-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

Based on information provided by a confidential informant, appellant Lorenzo Tavarez was arrested and charged with two counts of distributing methamphetamine. Despite the informant’s unexplained absence at trial, a jury convicted Tavarez on all charges. Tavarez now argues that the district court erred by refusing to give the jury a requested “missing witness” instruction and that, without the informant’s testimony, the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction. We affirm. * * *

The case against Tavarez was not overwhelming. We can imagine innocent explanations for the fingerprint and the buy money in the men’s clothing. But the ability to imagine an innocent explanation is not equivalent to harboring reasonable doubt. This circumstantial evidence was not so weak as to preclude a guilty verdict.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 15, 2010 11:07 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions