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Friday, July 06, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Two Indiana cases today from 7th Circuit, plus one from Illinois that sounds familiar ....

Here is the one from Illinois (US v. Collins) that sounds familiar, at least at the start:

SYKES, Circuit Judge. Michael Collins served for many years as a city councilman and vice-mayor of East St. Louis, Illinois, but left city service in 2002 and moved to the suburbs. Although he no longer lived in the city, he used his previous address in East St. Louis to continue to vote there and to establish residency for his successful election and re-election to the public office of precinct committeeman for the local Democratic Party.
Now, from Indiana district courts:

In US v. Mota (ND Ind., Simon), a 12-page opinion, Circuit Judge Manion writes:

A jury convicted Armando Mota of attempting to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and of possessing with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 846. At the start of his jury trial, Mota learned that a government agent had failed to record and relay exculpatory evidence regarding a conversation between the agent and Mota’s co-defendant, Jorge Ponce, during which conversation Ponce assumed complete responsibility for the crime and proclaimed Mota’s innocence. On appeal, Mota argues that the agent’s failure to record the conversation and to pass on the information to Mota violates Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and that he is thus entitled to a new trial. While the failure to transmit exculpatory evidence was inexcusable, Mota learned of this evidence at the start of his trial and thoroughly presented it to the jury. Also, because Mota had the opportunity to cross-examine the negligent agent and because Ponce testified on Mota’s behalf, we cannot conclude that Mota was denied a fair trial. Mota also argues that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient to sustain his conviction. Considering the evidence presented by the prosecution at trial which included testimony from the government informant who met Ponce and Mota in order to conduct a drug deal and the audio recording of this sting operation, we find there was sufficient evidence from which a jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the district court.
In US v. Cephus et al (ND Ind., Lozano), a 13-page opinion, Circuit Judge Posner writes:
The defendants were tried together for conspiring to entice underage girls, often runaways, to engage in prostitution, to transport them (along with adult women who also worked for the ring) in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution, to use force and fraud to coerce adult women to engage in prostitution, and to commit related offenses. The defendants were also charged with the underlying offenses. * * *

Stanton Cephus’s argument that his 324-month sentence is grossly disproportionate to his role in the offenses is frivolous, and that brings us to the last issue: whether defendant Stewart is entitled to a remand because of an ambiguity in his sentence. At the sentencing hearing the judge imposed life sentences on him on seven counts for which the jury convicted him, and on the other seven counts of conviction imposed sentences ranging from 5 to 10 years. The judge added that the sentences are “all to be served consecutively to each other.” The written judgment, however, states that all the sentences are “to be served concurrently.” * * *

Yet, it might seem that since Stewart’s written judgment is more lenient than the spoken one, he has nothing to gain from challenging it by seeking a remand. But we can’t be certain of that. Again suppose that in a collateral proceeding Stewart’s life sentences are voided and he is resentenced; the judge might follow his original oral pronouncement (if we had not questioned it) and make the term sentences consecutive; and the Bureau of Prisons would be bound. So Stewart’s judgment should be remanded to enable the district judge to reconcile the discrepancy between his written and oral sentences.

In all other respects the judgments are affirmed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 6, 2012 01:35 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions