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7th Circuit ends use of inextricable intertwinement doctrine

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a defendant’s perjury conviction and in doing so, concluded that resorting to inextricable intertwinement is unavailable when determining a theory of admissibility.

Jamarkus Gorman challenged his perjury conviction after testifying falsely before a grand jury. Gorman’s brother was the subject of drug trafficking and money laundering investigations. Police learned his brother had a Bentley and wanted to seize it as proceeds of the brother’s illegal drug activity. Police met with Gorman at his gated condominium complex and asked if he knew of the Bentley and whether it was stored in the condominium complex’s garage. Gorman said he didn’t know of a Bentley, and lied to police about which parking spots in the garage he owned. After police left because they didn’t see the Bentley, Gorman had several people help him tow the car out of the garage and abandon it. They also pried open the trunk which contained money used to pay accomplices.

When testifying before the grand jury as part of the indictment process for the money laundering charges, Gorman said he never had a Bentley in his garage. Before his perjury trial, the District Court admitted certain witness statements about the car theft and his retrieving money out of the trunk. The District Court concluded the evidence was admissible under the inextricable intertwinement doctrine.

In United States of America v. Jamarkus Gorman No. 09-3010, the Circuit Court spent time analyzing the admission of the evidence and overruled its prior line of cases that allowed for admission using the inextricable intertwinement doctrine.

“There is now so much overlap between the theories of admissibility that the inextricable intertwinement doctrine often serves as the basis for admission even when it is unnecessary,” wrote Judge Michael Kanne. “Thus, although this fine distinction has traditionally existed, the inextricable intertwinement doctrine has since become overused, vague, and quite unhelpful.”

They found the District Court didn’t need to resort to the inextricable intertwinement doctrine to admit the evidence. Even though it was admitted using that doctrine, it made no practical difference to the outcome of admissibility. The judges found the evidence was properly admitted as direct evidence instead and the probative value of that evidence was not substantially outweighed by any unfair prejudicial effect on Gorman.

They also found a little merit in Gorman’s argument that he never “had” the Bentley because he didn’t own it, so he couldn’t have lied on the stand.

“We agree initially with Jamarkus that “to have” has more than one meaning,” wrote Judge Kanne. “But what Jamarkus ignores is that our precedent dictates that even when a question or answer is ambiguous, a conviction may still be upheld if a jury has been called upon ‘to determine that the question as the defendant understood it was falsely answered….’”

There was ample evidence of conduct that is consistent with Gorman’s possession of the Bentley, including his storage of the vehicle and implicit claims he owned the car.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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