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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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