US Supreme Courtroom agrees to contemplate scope of skilled witness testimony in drug trafficking case – JURIST


The US Supreme Courtroom on Monday agreed to contemplate the evidentiary scope of skilled witness testimony for demonstrating intent in a “blind mule” drug trafficking case, Diaz v. United States. The petition for reconsideration was introduced by Delilah Diaz, a California lady who was convicted of transporting medication into the US after the federal government offered skilled testimony to disprove Diaz’s declare that she didn’t know she was carrying medication. 

In earlier proceedings, the US Courtroom of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court docket choice to affirm Diaz’s conviction for transporting methamphetamine throughout the US-Mexico border in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952 and 960. Particularly, the decrease courts discovered that the US authorities’s skilled witness testimony that the majority “blind mules” know that they’re smuggling medication was admissible beneath Federal Rule of Evidence 704(b).

Whether or not Rule 704(b) permits an skilled witness to testify that an individual transporting medication knew they have been doing so is a matter that has brought on a circuit cut up. The Ninth Circuit, Eighth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit have all permitted testimony of this sort. Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit has repeatedly discovered that the rule prohibits “the purposeful equal” of a prohibited opinion on an actor’s data, in addition to “express opinions” on the matter.

Diaz defined this circuit cut up in help of her request for reconsideration earlier than asserting that the stance of the Ninth Circuit is fallacious. In response to her petition for certiorari:

The Ninth Circuit’s place … contravenes the textual content of Rule 704(b), which prohibits all “opinion[s] about” the defendant’s psychological state – not simply express opinions. It additionally impermissible lightens the Authorities’s burden to show data past an affordable doubt, allowing it to substitute a generalization a few specific class of defendants for proof particular to the precise defendant.

Finally, Diaz asserted that permitting this kind of skilled witness testimony violates “elementary notions of due course of.” The Supreme Courtroom is predicted to listen to oral arguments on the matter subsequent 12 months.

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