May 24, 2019

Tenth Circuit: Government Not Required to Assert Its Interest in Protecting Identity of Informant; Court Assumes Interest Is Safety or Not Compromising Other Investigations

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Cruz on Monday, June 11, 2012.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conviction. Petitioner was convicted, after a jury trial, of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and sentenced to 63 months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release. “On appeal, he argues that the district court erred (1) in not requiring the government to disclose a confidential informant involved in a controlled buy, and (2) in relying on certain disputed facts about the controlled buy contained in the PSR.

The Court found that “panels that uphold such denials [of requests for disclosure] generally find that the value of the informant to the defense is ‘speculative’ or irrelevant” and this case is similar. Additionally, “no case law requires the government specifically to assert its interest in protecting the identity of the informant. [The Court] assumes the interest is informant safety, keeping the information flowing, or not compromising other investigations. . . . The district court indicated on the record that it considered the controlled buy to be relevant conduct, and in doing so relied not only on the PSR but evidence it took at trial. Remand would only allow the court to reiterate or to state more clearly what is already implicit,” and the outcome would be the same.

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