March 18, 2018

Archives for November 30, 2011

Tenth Circuit: Excluding Testimony Harmless Due to Strong Evidence of Guilt and Inconsistencies in Excluded Testimony that Was Otherwise Highlighted

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Irving on Tuesday, November 29, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s convictions. Petitioner was convicted of one count of witness tampering for his part in a murder-for-hire scheme directed at killing a local law enforcement officer prior to that officer testifying against him. He also was convicted of one count of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. Petitioner was sentenced to 360 months in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release. He appealed his conviction, raising five claims: “(1) the indictment failed to charge a crime; (2) the indictment was duplicitous; (3) there was insufficient evidence introduced at trial to support his convictions; (4) the district court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony of a defense witness who was present in the courtroom in violation of the Rule of Sequestration; and (5) the district court abused its discretion in admitting testimony from the target of the murder-for-hire scheme regarding his role in an earlier investigation and prosecution of [Petitioner].”

Because the Court rejected Petitioner’s codefendent’s argument that the interplay between “attempt” and “conspiring” in the indictment resulted in the government’s failure to charge a cognizable federal offense, the Court was precluded from reconsidering the issue. Similarly, the duplicitous indictment argument was already rejected as to Petitioner’s codefendent, and was not reconsidered. The Court also found that there was indeed sufficient evidence to support his convictions and that Petitioner was therefore not entitled to relief. Additionally, “given the strong evidence of guilt that exists in this instance, and the inconsistencies in [the excluded] testimony that had otherwise been highlighted by the government, [the Court] conclude[d] that the district court’s error [in excluding the testimony] was harmless.” Lastly, the Court agreed with the government that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the challenged testimony would not result in unfair prejudice to Petitioner.

Tenth Circuit: Employment Age Discrimination Claims Filed Beyond Limitations Period; Ledbetter Act Not Applicable

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Almond, III v. Unified School Dist. #501 on Tuesday, November 29, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioners were employed by Respondent school district. Facing budget restraints, their positions were eliminated, but both accepted other positions with decreased pay taking effect in two years. Upon the two year mark when their pay decreased as agreed upon, Petitioners filed suit alleging unlawful age discrimination. However, the district court determined that Petitioners had waited too long to seek administrative review — and that the delay had the effect of barring their lawsuits altogether.

While Petitioners’ appeal of the district court’s summary judgment decision was pending, Congress passed the Ledbetter Act – a law specifically aimed at effecting changes to limitations law in the employment discrimination field. “To allow the district court the opportunity to consider whether the Act rescued [Petitioners]’ claims, rendering their otherwise untimely claims timely, the parties agreed to dismiss the appeal. In the end, though, the district court concluded that the Act offered the [Petitioners] no help and now the case is back on appeal.

The Court considered the timeliness of the Petitioners’ claims in light of both preexisting law and the Ledbetter Act. The Court found that “whether the adverse consequences flowing from the challenged employment action hit the employee straight away or only much later, the [300-day] ‘limitations period normally commences when the employer’s decision is made’ and ‘communicated’ to the employee;” Petitioners both filed their claims outside that window. Additionally, “by its express terms, the [Ledbetter] Act applies only to claims alleging ‘discrimination in compensation’ — or, put another way, claims of unequal pay for equal work.” The Petitioners did not bring such claims and so the Ledbetter Act does not apply to their situation.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/29/11