United States v. Diaz case brief summary
864 F.2d 544 (7th Cir. 1988)
Defendant appealed the order from the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
that entered his conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Defendant argued that the district court erred when it gave a
conscious avoidance of knowledge instruction.
CASE FACTS After a federal jury trial, defendant
was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession and
distribution of cocaine, and use of a firearm in relation to the
commission of a drug trafficking crime. Defendant appealed and
alleged that the district court erred when it gave a conscious
avoidance of knowledge instruction, commonly referred to as the
"ostrich" instruction. A conscious avoidance instruction
was properly given only when the defendant claimed a lack of guilty
knowledge and there were facts and evidence that supported an
inference of deliberate ignorance.
The court found that the
instruction confused the jurors.
The danger in giving the instruction
where there was evidence of direct knowledge but no evidence of
avoidance of knowledge was that the jury could still convict a
defendant that merely should have known about the criminal venture.
That situation did not exist in the instant case.
addition to the ostrich instruction, the jury was instructed properly
that the government had to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that
defendant knowingly participated in the conspiracy.
The judgment of
the district court was affirmed.
CONCLUSION Defendant's conviction for conspiracy to
distribute cocaine was affirmed because the jury was properly
instructed not to convict defendant for conspiracy based on mere
presence at the scene of the crime.
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