April, 2021

Eleventh Circuit: Defendants Were Entitled
to a New Trial Where District Court Erred
When It Failed to Give
Entrapment Defense Instruction

Defendants, who were corrections officers targeted by an undercover informant who set up fake drug deals with uniformed corrections officers outside of prison walls, were convicted of extortion and attempted distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine. As to two of the defendants, the Eleventh Circuit reversed for a new trial where pressure tactics by the undercover informant raised a question as to whether there was substantial risk that those efforts may have convinced defendants to do something that they may not have intended to do beforehand, and thus defendant met the light burden of production as to government inducement, as required to present entrapment defense to jury. The informant and one defendant had nine conversations, and defendant was hesitant during the first few calls, and the informant promised to help another defendant when he was in trouble or to take care of financial concerns, offered a job, explained how easy it was, and that it was as simple as riding along in a car. United States v. Mayweather, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 11, 03-17-2021, WL 1017106).

First Circuit: District Court Abused Its
Discretion When It Denied Motion to Sever
in Federal Corruption Case

Defendant was charged with various federal fraud and conspiracy offenses pertaining to her actions as an official in the government of Puerto Rico and was tried jointly with three other individuals charged in the indictment. The First Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion in declining to sever defendant’s trial from another codefendant where the jury was exposed to days of detailed evidence about the alleged corrupt scheme perpetrated by the co-defendant that defendant was not involved in, that same co-defendant was accused of bribing defendant, defendant’s main theory of defense was that the co-defendant acted corruptly and intended to influence her, but she merely accepted gifts without any quid pro quo, and the limiting jury instructions did not mitigate the risk of spillover prejudice. United States v. Lopez-Martinez, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 1, 04-07-2021, WL 1291156).