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District Court properly handles expert testimony by non-expert witnesses

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Although neither witness called to testify in a criminal trial was an expert, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the District Court did not err by barring the testimony of the defense witness while allowing the statements of the government witness.

The 7th Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence of Randall Causey in United States of American v. Randall B. Causey, 13-1321.
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Causey was convicted of one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349 and eight counts of aiding and abetting the commission of, and committing the offenses of, wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343. He was sentenced to 108 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud borrowers and lenders in a real estate scheme in Gary during the housing boom years of 2005 and 2006.

As the only defendant to not plead guilty, Causey had a five-day trial that took place in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division.

On appeal, Causey raised five issues, two of which asserted the District Court erred in its rulings on expert testimony.

During his trial, Causey called Douglas Kvachkoff, the owner of Indiana Title Network Co. Kvachkoff started by testifying about the contents of a closing folder he had, but when defense counsel began asking questions about how someone in the real estate industry would procure closing numbers, the District Court barred the responses as improper expert testimony.

The 7th Circuit agreed with the District Court. It found that the defense’s questions about the closing numbers required a specialized knowledge of the industry. Since Causey did not file the necessary Rule 16 disclosure, the 7th Circuit held that the District Court was within its discretion to exclude the expert testimony.

Also at trial, one of Causey’s co-conspirators, Sheila Chandler, was called as a witness for the government. Chandler testified about her role in the scheme and, at one point, said the Gary housing market was inflated by 400 percent.

Causey argued on appeal that Chandler was not qualified to give expert testimony and her 400 percent comment was beyond the scope of the government’s pretrial Rule 16 disclosure.

The 7th Circuit held that even if Chandler’s testimony exceeded the scope of the government’s disclosure, the error was harmless. Her statements were of little value to the government’s case and the defense counsel’s cross examination mitigated any potential harm by pointing out Chandler was not an appraiser.   


 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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