Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dohan: No Improper Vouching

In U.S. v. Dohan, No. 06-14320 (Nov. 28, 2007), the Court affirmed the conviction of a defendant charged with fraud and money-laundering.
Reviewing for "plain error," the Court rejected the argument that the government should have corrected a cooperating witness testimony that he was testifying of his own volition, when he was in fact still subject to supervised release. The Court noted that the issue involved the witness’ beliefs, and that the witness had been subject to vigorous cross-examination.
The Court also rejected the argument that the government improperly vouched for credibility of the witness’ credibility by suggesting that he had been "checked" by the prosecutor, and also by the judge earlier in reducing the witness’ sentence for giving substantial assistance. The Court found no error and no prejudice. The Court also found no error in the witness’ testimony that he was a "moral, Christian man."
Finally, the Court rejected the argument that the district court erred in giving a "specific intent" jury instruction, as provided in the Eleventh Circuit Model Jury Instructions, as being the mens rea of the laundering offense. The Court noted that its own caselaw no longer required specific intent, but mere knowing and voluntary participation in the conspiracy. The caselaw trumped the old Model Instruction.