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Court Overturns Smuggling Conviction, Citing Deportation Of Key Witness

Aired 9/18/12 on KPBS News.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals faulted a local judge and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy's office for keeping important testimony from a jury.

— A federal appeals court has overturned the conviction of a man prosecuted for smuggling people across the border, citing the government's deportation of a witness who could have helped his case.

In March 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a group of migrants trying to cross the border through a canyon. They also arrested two men suspected of being their smugglers.

Several migrants later accused one of those men, Jonathan Leal-Del Carmen, of being their guide. But at least one woman in the group said he had not been.

The government kept the migrants who accused Leal-Del Carmen in the U.S. and used their testimony at his trial. But before Leal-Del Carmen's indictment, they deported the woman who said he was not their foot guide, and later kept her testimony from his attorney. Leal-Del Carmen was convicted.

But on Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that conviction, forcing the lower court whether to dismiss the charges against him or allow a retrial. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said the government had prevented Leal-Del Carmen from mounting a full defense by knowingly deporting a witness who could have helped his case. And it said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s office and the judge in the case had made matters worse by keeping possibly exculpatory evidence from the jury.

"As of today," the court wrote, "there should be no doubt that the unilateral deportation of witnesses favorable to the defense is not permitted."

The U.S. Attorney's Office refused to comment on the case.

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | September 18, 2012 at 8:20 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Wait a minute. Law enforcement did something wrong to help them win a conviction? I AM SHOCKED

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Avatar for user 'Marcus'

Marcus | September 18, 2012 at 9:47 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Let's talk about "U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s office and the judge in the case had made matters worse by keeping possibly exculpatory evidence from the jury.", just a little bit more... shall we!

This case is systematic of much worse federal court offenses - on Americans.

State legal medical marijuana patients are being victimized by the same group of 'do good'ers' - who withhold ALL evidence relating to state law regarding medical marijuana - even when a case is moved from state court, where the evidence is throughout the investigation and the discovery.

To remove all reference to 'medical' and 'state law' is much worse than this objectionable case!

Imagine this for a moment that -- you are diagnosed with cancer, you use marijuana to relieve the pain and wasting that chemo causes... you donate your over-growth to a dispensary to comply with state law, the dispensary is raided by the feds, then they raid and arrest YOU...

You MAY NOT mention state law, or even the words 'cancer', or 'medical' before the word 'marijuana', at any time to your jury!

Yet, the feds hold patents on 'medical cannabis', and the Veterans Admin allows it's use by disabled vets. Even the cancer.gov website touts it's medicinal use...

Enjoy your freedumb America!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 18, 2012 at 10:27 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

"As of today," the court wrote, "there should be no doubt that the unilateral deportation of witnesses favorable to the defense is not permitted."

Good!

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Avatar for user 'Marcus'

Marcus | September 18, 2012 at 10:41 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

But, when will the unilateral suppression of evidence favorable to the defense of a cancer patient be 'not permitted'?

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | September 18, 2012 at 3:39 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

I smell a pot head. 99% of medical marijuana "patients" have nothing wrong with them.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 19, 2012 at 7:42 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

That is not the relevant issue. Freedom means being able to make stupid mistakes like inhaling smoke laced with harmful / addictive substances such as nicotine or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or hydrogen cyanide. Just do it where you don’t get any on me, don’t use your self-inflicted diminished state as an excuse for bad behavior and don’t ask for my help paying your medical bill and we’re all happy.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | September 19, 2012 at 8:13 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

benz I agree, I don't think any drugs should be illegal. If we want to destroy our minds and bodies that is our right. The only problem I see is when you said "don’t ask for my help paying your medical bill"... unfortunately, Papa Government wants us to give up all personal responsibility to the government and nurse us into old age. That means I will be paying for these drug addicted losers frequent ambulance trips to the hospital (like we currently do with the homeless on the streets).

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 20, 2012 at 7:13 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

That can be fixed, we're short on funds anyway.

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