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7th Circuit affirms drug conspiracy judgments, cautions prosecution

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Nine defendants who were convicted in federal court of drug conspiracy for distributing methamphetamine and marijuana will continue to serve their sentences after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments but issued cautions for federal prosecutors.

In U.S. v. Jwuan L. Moreland, Antrio B. Hammond, Wesley S. Hammond, Susie A. Smith, Herbert D. Phipps, David J. Pitts, Bradley S. Shelton, Michael D. Weir and Timothy Bailey, 11-2546, 11-2552, 11-2632, 11-2633, 11-2696, 11-3146, 11-3319, 11-3321, 11-3367, the court affirmed convictions and sentences ranging from 110 months to life in prison. The appeal arose from cases tried by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division.

Writing for the panel, Circuit Judge Richard Posner warned that “a prosecutor’s putting all his eggs in the conspiracy basket can be a risky tactic,” particularly when one defendant’s role in the larger drug-dealing operation was questionable.

Herbert Phipps argued that he was merely a buyer of methamphetamine and that his intent to deal was not established. “The government was skating on thin ice by failing to charge him with a substantive drug offense, for which the evidence was much stronger, rather than just with conspiracy,” Posner wrote.

“Nevertheless his conviction must stand. The jury heard evidence that he indeed sold as well as consumed meth that he bought from the drug ring in quantity on credit. … At trial he testified that this was a ruse to obtain a large quantity of meth for his personal use, but the jury didn’t have to believe him,” Posner wrote.

The opinion rejects individually the arguments raised by each defendant in affirming the judgments against them, but Posner also wrote, “The jury instructions were repetitive and confusing, and included an open-ended list of factors from which membership in a conspiracy could be inferred.”

Posner also took issue with the designation of a Drug Enforcement Administration witness’s testimony as both expert and non-expert. “Using terms like ‘lay witness’ and ‘expert witness” and trying to explain to the jury the difference between the two types of witness is inessential and, it seems to us, ill advised,” he wrote.
 



 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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