Monday, December 23, 2013

United States v. Brito case brief

United States v. Brito case brief summary
907 F.2d 392 (1990)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendants appealed the judgments entered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which were entered after they were convicted of various narcotics-related offenses, because they claimed a misuse of the grand jury process by the prosecution. They also questioned the sufficiency of the evidence and the instructions given by the trial court.

CASE FACTS
Defendants were convicted of various narcotics-related offenses. They appealed the trial court's judgments against them, which were affirmed. On appeal, defendants maintained that the prosecution had misused the grand jury process and that the reversal of their convictions was warranted as a result.

DISCUSSION

  • The court noted that it could, pursuant to its supervisory power, dismiss an indictment for prosecutorial misconduct if the grand jury was misled or misinformed. 
  • It also noted that the prosecution routinely presented only a single witness, who was not always that familiar with the investigation, to the grand jury. 
  • While a casual attitude with regard to the presentation of evidence before the grand jury might have been exhibited by the prosecution, the court concluded that the dismissal of the indictments against defendants was not warranted. 
  • The court also found that the grand jury was not used for the purpose of preparing the case against defendants and that the "conscious avoidance" instruction given by the trial court tracked language previously approved by the court. 
  • Finally, there was sufficient evidence for defendants' convictions.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the trial court's judgments, which were entered after defendants were convicted of various narcotics-related offenses, because it found that the possible misuse of the grand jury process by the prosecution, while troubling, failed to warrant the reversal of their convictions. The court also found that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that a proper "conscious avoidance" charge was given.

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