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7th Circuit affirms kidnapping and extortion convictions, sentence

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Finding no error in the admittance of three photo identifications of a defendant following charges of kidnapping and extortion, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Lamar Sanders’ convictions and 25-year sentence Thursday.

In United States of America v. Lamar E. Sanders, 11-3298, Sanders argued that the District Court denied him due process by admitting Timicka Nobles’ three identifications of him. Sanders claimed that the District Court ran afoul of the Confrontation Clause, or, alternatively, abused its discretion, by limiting his cross-examination of Nobles. Finally, Sanders contends that the District Court applied the incorrect mandatory minimum sentence.

Sanders and Ralph Scott forced their way into Nobles’ apartment, kidnapped her 10-year-old daughter, and forced Nobles to drive to her mother’s currency exchange store in Chicago. There, she took money out of the store’s safe and placed it in a plastic bag on her car’s front seat, where Sanders then removed it. She was able to notify her mother of the plot, who then alerted police. Scott was arrested at the scene and Sanders turned himself in shortly thereafter.

Nobles was shown a photo at the scene found in Sanders’ car of him at a birthday party; two hours later she was shown a formal photo array. She also identified Sanders in court. The daughter, who did not see the birthday party photos, also identified Sanders as her kidnapper.

Two mandatory minimum sentences apply to kidnapping – 20 years or 25 years. The District Court imposed the higher penalty.

The 7th Circuit upheld the admission of Nobles’ identifications of Sanders in a 33-page decision, finding any errors to be harmless because the government’s evidence was strong and Sanders’ case was weak.

The District Court did not allow Sanders’ to probe the details of Nobles’ criminal past, including that her previous convictions of theft and forgery involved a currency exchange.

“Sanders presented the jury with his entire theory of Nobles’s motive to lie. The fact that the prior convictions involved crimes at another currency exchange would not have given the jury any further material information in appraising her credibility,” Judge Michael Kanne wrote. “The jury might not have possessed all the information Sanders wanted it to have, but it certainly had sufficient information to evaluate Nobles’s testimony.”

The judges also believed that Congress intended for the 25-year minimum sentence for kidnapping to apply, as that minimum was passed after the 20-year minimum sentence was in place.

 

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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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