Thursday, May 22, 2008

Interesting Discussion of Inconsistent Verdict In Importation/PWID Case

United States v. Igbinosun, No. 07-20075 (5th Cir. May 15, 2008) (Davis, Southwick, Clark D.J.)

Here's an interesting paragraph in a decision upholding a conviction in a bench trial in which the judge found the defendant guilty of importation of heroin, but not guilty of possession with intent to deliver that same heroin. (Igbinosun was arrested at Intercontinental Airport in Houston after returning from Nigeria having swallowed fifty-eight pellets of heroin.)
A court is permitted to draw an inference of intent to distribute from the amount of drugs present, but this court has never held that it is required to do so. The government neither elicited testimony regarding the amount of heroin typically held for personal consumption, nor argued that the amount of heroin found supported an inference of intent to distribute. In contrast, Igbinosun testified at trial that while she did not know what kind of drugs she had swallowed, she knew that what she swallowed was, in fact, drugs. Under these facts, the district court could have found that the United States proved intent as to the importation, but not the distribution, count.

Don't know how useful that might be in another case, but maybe you can tease an argument out of it.


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