7th Circuit affirms men’s drug convictions

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In a consolidated appeal brought by two men convicted on charges stemming from a heroin conspiracy, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed their convictions. Ronald Zitt, who went to trial, argued he was entitled to a mistrial. Joshua Wampler pleaded guilty but argued he should be allowed to appeal.

The two were charged in a multi-count, multi-defendant indictment alleging a heroin conspiracy and substantive counts of distribution. Zitt was convicted by a jury of conspiring to distribute and of distributing heroin; Wampler pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin.

At Zitt’s trial, government witness James Summers answered a question saying, “I was in prison while he’s locked up,” referring to Zitt. Zitt’s attorney immediately moved for a mistrial, which was denied. The attorney declined the judge’s other remedies: a recess to investigate whether the two men were in the same facility at the same time or an admonishment to the jury that Summers’ answer was irrelevant.

“Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Summers’s testimony was improper, the statement was not so prejudicial that Zitt was denied a fair trial, so any arguable error would be harmless. Summers’s comment was brief and nondescript and, afterward, Zitt’s criminal history was never mentioned again,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote. “Thus, there was no danger that, because of this fleeting answer, the jury was prevented from fairly evaluating the evidence.”

“Finally, any impact Summers’s quick reference to Zitt’s past jail time may have had on the jury is outweighed by the overwhelming evidence of guilt,” he continued.

Turning to Wampler’s appeal, the judges dismissed his appeal finding he waived his right to appeal as a condition of his plea agreement. Wampler’s appointed attorney concluded that the appeal is frivolous and sought to withdraw. The Circuit judges granted the attorney’s motion to withdraw and denied Wampler’s motion for substitute counsel.

The case is United States of America v. Ronald Zitt and Joshua Wampler, 12-1277, 12-2865.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.