Right to Present a Defense
1. Whether Appellants were deprived of their Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury because the Trial Court, over objection, erroneously permitted the government to introduce a vast array of evidence of uncharged violent crimes the jury could not have concluded by a preponderance of evidence they committed, that were neither similar to nor related to the charged offenses, and were far more prejudicial than probative of any issue in this case?
2. Whether, due to misinterpretation of evidence rules, the Trial Court deprived Appellants of their right to confront government witnesses and to present a complete defense by excluding evidence of uncharged crimes by a key cooperating codefendant, where counsel had a good faith basis for their questions; from the proffered evidence jurors could conclude that the witness committed the crimes; the uncharged conduct was evidence of the witness’s bias and motive to implicate Appellants, rather than other, closer associates; and the proffered evidence was substantially more probative than prejudicial?
United States v. Burwell, et al., No. 06-3070 — Appellants charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, four armed bank robberies, two armed assaults with intent to kill. Appellants challenged the Trial Court's rulings on the admissibility of evidence of their alleged other crimes and bad acts, and exclusion of similar evidence they proffered regarding the government's star cooperating codefendant. Individual appellants argued that the Judge erred by denying severance motions, by failing to limit government interference with final argument, and that tere was insufficient evidence to convict them.
1. Whether the Trial Court violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment where the indictment included 17 multiplicitous substantive counts and three multiplicitous conspiracies embedded within a RICO conspiracy and the Judge did not require the government to elect between prosecuting Appellant Abdur R. Mahdi under 18 U.S.C. §§1959 and 924(c) or nearly identical D.C. Code provisions, or, at a minimum, failed to identify the D.C. Code violations on the verdict form as lesser-included offenses to be considered by the jury only if it acquitted Appellant of the greater crimes or failed to reach verdicts on the greater charges despite their best efforts?
2. Whether the Trial Court violated Appellant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him by refusing to order the government to identify numerous bad acts and uncharged crimes it either intended to elicit from cooperating codefendants or that might come out in cross-examination of government witnesses, effectively preventing defense counsel from aggressively cross-examining those witnesses because counsel never had the opportunity to investigate or prepare to rebut the witnesses’ allegations?
United States v. Mahdi, No. 03-3154, briefs filed (D.C. Cir.) -- Appellant and 15 codefendants indicted for conspiracy to distribute narcotics, RICO conspiracy, numerous counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, several D.C. Code counts of assault with intent to commit murder while armed and related firearms charges, first-degree premeditated murder while armed and related firearms charges, several counts under 18 U.S.C. 1959(a) of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, and related firearms violations under 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Appellant, the only defendant who went to trial, was convicted on 48 of 49 counts. Appeal argues that the indictment charging both D.C. Code violent crimes and federal VICAR crimes was multiplicitous, that Appellant was deprived of his right to confront witnesses against him and to present a defense, that 18 U.S.C. 1959 is facially unconstitutional, and that his sentence for the D.C. violent crimes and the VICAR crimes violated the Double Jeopardy Clause.