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Admittance of hearsay evidence harmless error, rules 7th Circuit

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The out-of-court testimony of a woman who said she purchased crack cocaine from a man who was on supervised release should not have been admitted during the man’s hearing regarding revoking his release, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held Wednesday. But this was a harmless error because the circumstantial evidence supports that the man dealt crack cocaine to the woman.

Munster Police Detective Timothy Nosich drove by a car containing Lorenzo Mosley and Sheryl Simmons. Nosich noted the woman left the car quickly after he passed by. Nosich followed Mosley’s car and pulled him over for a traffic violation. He found marijuana, crack cocaine and a large amount of cash in the car or on Mosley.

Shortly thereafter, police spoke with Simmons, who was carrying a bag of pot scrubbing pads – which are commonly used as filters in crack pipes. She turned over four little yellow baggies that contained the crack cocaine and said she already used the fifth bag she purchased.

When arrested for driving on a suspended license, Mosley was on supervised release. His probation officer sought revocation of the release and alleged several offenses, including distributing cocaine. Mosley disputed this alleged violation, because if the judge found it to be true, he would spend longer time in prison.

The District Court allowed Nosich to testify regarding what Simmons had told him and played a video of her being interviewed for the judge. Mosley objected, but the judge allowed it. Simmons did not testify in person. The judge ordered Mosley sentenced to 21 months in prison.

“In this case, the district court failed to balance Mosley’s constitutional interests in confrontation and cross-examination with the government’s reasons for not producing the witness. This was an error under Rule 32.1. Further, we cannot conclude that the district court would have admitted the hearsay if it had properly balanced the interests because, even if the hearsay was reliable (which we think it was), the government has offered no reason whatsoever for failing to produce Simmons. Accordingly, there is nothing in the record to balance against Mosley’s interest,” Judge Daniel Manion wrote in United States of America v. Lorenzo Mosley, 13-3184.

But this error was harmless because the violation of supervised release would have been found even without the hearsay evidence. The government presented strong circumstantial evidence that Mosley had sold Simmons the drug. The detective witnessed what he believed to be a drug deal and Mosley had a history of selling crack cocaine in little yellow baggies – the same kind that Simmons surrendered to police.
 

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  1. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  2. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  3. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  4. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  5. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

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