July 10, 2014

Tenth Circuit: Drug Conspiracy Convictions Affirmed

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Renteria on Thursday, June 27, 2013.

This opinion consolidates the appeals of three of four gang members who were convicted of several charges involving their conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, including money laundering and weapons possession.

The three defendants alleged the district court abused its discretion by admitting summary charts over objection. The charts were summaries of UPS, Money Gram, and Western Union documents. The actual records were admitted as business records. The defendants complained the summarizer added dates from testimony of two witnesses, making the charts a summary of testimony rather than records. Summarized exhibits relying on previous testimony are admissible under FRE 611(a) if the summaries aid the jury in ascertaining the truth and whether any prejudice would result. The Tenth Circuit determined the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

The defendants all made insufficiency of the evidence arguments. The court discussed in detail the requirements for a firearm to be possessed in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and found that argument failed, as did all the others. The court affirmed.

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