In U.S. v. Taylor, No. 04-10667 (July 19, 2005), the Court (Birch, Carnes, Roney) affirmed convictions and a 322-month sentence imposed for being a felon in possession of a firearm, possesion of marihuana, and using a firearm during a drug trafficking offense.
The Court rejected the argument that the trial court should have allowed the defendant to introduce evidence of citizen complaints regarding the arresting police officer’s history of planting evidence, and brutality. The Court noted that all the incidents were "unproven." Citing U.S. v. Novaton, the Court noted that unproven allegations are not proper impeachment evidence. The Court further noted that the defendant had not proferred testimony of witnesses who could testify about specific misconduct. Moreover, brutality complaints were irrelevant to the drug and gun possession charges against Taylor.
The Court also rejected a challenge to the exclusion of background evidence concerning Taylor’s homelessness, finding the admission of such evidence within the broad discretion of the district court.
The Court further rejected Taylor’s complaint that he was not provided with discovery of a jailhouse’s companion’s testimony concerning Taylor’s confession of the crime. The Court pointed out that Fed. R. Crim. P. 16 only requires disclosure of witness statements given to the government under interrogation. Here, the statement was not given to the government, and it was not made in response to interrogation.
The Court also rejected the argument that introduction of Taylor’s prior gun conviction violated Rule 404(b). The Court found that this evidence, subject to the court’s limiting instruction, was admissible on the gun counts against Taylor.
The Court found no plain error under Booker in the sentence, noting that there was no evidence a lesser sentence would have been imposed had the sentencing court treated the Guidelines as advisory, not mandatory.