Friday, February 3, 2012

Eleventh Circuit reigns in 404(b) in drug conspriacies!!!

"Allowing the government to admit such a remote and factually dissimilar conviction would effectively create a per se rule of admissibility of any prior drug conviction in drug conspiracy cases—no matter how old or how different."

US v. Sanders

Too bad for the defendant that the harmless error automatons were at work:

"Because Sanders’s prior 1988 conviction involving 1.4 grams of marijuana had so little, if any, probative value, the district court abused its discretion by admitting the conviction.

Nevertheless, the paucity of probative value creates an additional problem for Sanders—the remoteness and dissimilarity of the prior conviction not only decreases the probative value to show intent but also diminishes the potential for unfair prejudice."

In other words - if the government can convince a judge to allow it to present to the a drug conspiracy trial...that the defendant was previously involved in drug dealing, it doesn't matter that the admission was erroneous because to be an erroneous admission the evidence has to have little probative value and therefore cannot constitute harmful prejudice!!!"

In other other words - we are wiping our butts with the thought that any defendant could possibly gain a reversal based upon the improper admission of 404(b) in a drug case...ever.

Also gotta love the presumption that law abiding citizens would never find that a guy who is a previously convicted drug dealer may be more likely to be a drug dealer:

"In other words, the prior conviction was so old and dissimilar that it is unlikely that the jury convicted Sanders because of the prior conviction, either because the jury believed Sanders should still be in jail for the prior conviction, or because the conviction demonstrates a propensity to transport large quantities of drugs in a tractor–trailer from Texas to North Carolina."

Why then would the government have wanted to offer it in the first place? What happened to not delving into jury deliberations???

Sucks to be in front of this Court of Affirmation.