Sunday, December 22, 2013

United States v. Moore case brief

United States v. Moore case brief summary
651 F.3d 30 (2011)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Six defendants were charged in a 158-count superseding indictment upon which the defendants were tried by a United States District Court for the District of Columbia jury and convicted on multiple charges, including drug conspiracy, Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act conspiracy, continuing criminal enterprise, murder, and other related charges in violation of federal and District of Columbia laws. Defendants appealed.

CASE FACTS
Defendants and other separately tried co-conspirators conspired and conducted an ongoing drug distribution business. In the course of conducting that business, various co-conspirators committed a wide-ranging course of violence, including 31 murders. They asserted a variety of alleged errors including evidentiary issues, both as to admission and sufficiency; conduct of the trial; prosecutorial misconduct; and jury instructions.

DISCUSSION

  • Upon review, the appellate court concluded that most of the asserted errors either were not erroneous or were harmless. 
  • As to one category of issue involving alleged Confrontation Clause violations, an intervening Supreme Court decision compelled remand of the convictions of some drug charges. 
  • On one defendant's claim that his counsel erroneously believed there was a Bruton problem and therefore failed to call an important witness, the record was inconclusive as to whether the allegations reflected counsel's informed tactical choice or a decision undertaken out of ignorance of the relevant law. 
  • Thus, the claim was remanded to the district court for an evidentiary hearing. The appellate court also vacated one murder conviction that merged with another.

CONCLUSION
The appellate court affirmed all of defendant's convictions except a murder conviction that merged with another count, which it vacated, two counts which the court remanded for an evidentiary hearing and to address the ineffective assistance of counsel claim; and several counts involving alleged Confrontation Clauseviolations, which it remanded for consideration in light of intervening U.S. Supreme Court caselaw.

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