Thursday, December 5, 2013

United States v. Medical Therapy Sciences case brief

United States v. Medical Therapy Sciences case brief summary
583 F.2d 36 (1978)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants sought review of the convictions entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, arising from filing and conspiring to file false Medicare claims. Appellants contended that character evidence was wrongly received under Fed. R. Evid. 608(a) to support a government witness's veracity.

CASE FACTS
Appellants were convicted in the district court of having filed and conspired to file false Medicare claims. Appellant claimed there was insufficient evidence to support the conspiracy conviction. The court held that the testimony of an unindicted co-conspirator fairly inferred the existence of an agreement, although there was no proof of a formal agreement. Appellants also contended that character evidence was wrongly received under Fed. R. Evid. 608(a) to support the veracity of the unindicted co-conspirator. The government on direct had elicited testimony regarding the witness's prior convictions and, after a cross-examination limited to matters brought out on direct, had presented character witnesses to bolster her credibility.

DISCUSSION

  • The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the character witnesses. 
  • The district court's proximity to the situation allowed it to make the determination of when, and by whom, an attack was made. 
  • The government elicited the prior convictions as background information, not for impeachment; thus, it did not attack its own witness. 
  • The cross-examination could have been characterized as an attack on veracity.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the district court's convictions of appellants for filing and conspiring to file false Medicare claims. The district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing character witnesses to bolster the credibility of a government witness because the cross-examination of the witness could have been characterized as an attack on her veracity.

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