Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Court Affirms Drug & Gun Convictions

US v. Wallace: Wallace was convicted by a jury of several drug and gun offenses and sentenced to 248 months in prison. Wallace's activities came to light after local police were called to an apartment he shared to investigate a domestic disturbance. A maroon van with two men in it was seen leaving the apartment complex and later stopped. Wallace and a codefendant (who pleaded guilty) were inside, along with several firearms, drugs, and cash.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed both Wallace's convictions and his sentence. The court rejected Wallace's argument that he should have been granted a mistrial or immediate curative instruction when a Government witness started to discuss the details of the domestic dispute, which had been ruled off limits in a pretrial order. Counsel objected immediately, but waited until a break in the proceedings to ask for a mistrial or curative instruction. The trial court denied the mistrial and gave a curative instruction during the closing jury charge. The Fourth Circuit found no error. The court also rejected Wallace's challenge to the sufficiency of one of the firearm convictions, using a plain error review (counsel failed to move for a judgment of acquittal at trial). Finally, the court held that Wallace's sentence, within the Guideline range, was reasonable.

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