Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Green: Conclusory assertions about exculpatory testimony insufficient for severance

In U.S. v. Green, No. 15-10270 (April 7, 2016), the Court affirmed the convictions of two-codefendants for operating a business that unlawfully sold oxycodone to fake patients. The Court rejected a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Reviewing the arguments in part for “plain error” because the specific challenge was not raised in the district court, the Court noted the fact that the customers paid in cash, that the defendants had signing authority over the bank accounts, that 90% of the prescriptions were for oxycodone. From such facts, the jury could reasonably find that the defendants laundered the proceeds of illegal drug distribution. The Court also found no error in the district court’s refusal to sever one defendant from the other. Defendant Hebble claimed that co-defendant Green would have exonerated her, had they been tried separately. But Hebble failed to proffer sufficiently specific exculpatory testimony to warrant severance. “Conclusory assertions” that Green would impeach government witnesses did not suffice.