The defendant is appealing his conviction of possession with the intent to distribute over 100 kilograms of marijuana. Border Patrol agents found the marijuana in his tractor trailer while at a border checkpoint. The defendant argues on appeal that his counsel was ineffective as they failed to request a Pennington jury instruction. A New York Criminal Lawyer said he also argues that the district court made an error by failing to provide a Pennington jury, by allowing the government to comment on his arrest, and that the district court abused its discretion by allowing a government witness offer his opinion about whether the defendant knew about the drugs in the trailer. He further argues that the government did not provide sufficient evidence to support the verdict of the jury.
Case Facts and Procedural Background
The defendant was driving a commercial tractor trailer when he arrived at a checkpoint located at the board. The border patrol agent asked the defendant if he was the only occupant of the truck and about his immigration status. Another agent informed the questioning agent to the fact that a narcotics dog had alerted the trailer.
The defendant allowed the trailer to be searched. A seal was found with a padlock. The defendant provided the key to the lock and the agents found three bags filled with 118 kilograms of marijuana. The defendant was immediately arrested.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was contacted by the Border Patrol agents. The DEA responded to the scene and took custody of the contraband along with the defendant. The investigation by the DEA revealed that the defendant was contracted to take car parts from four warehouses to a plant in Michigan.
The warehouses were all checked and each had security cameras and no marijuana was found in any of them. A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said it was discovered that the padlock that secured the area where the marijuana was found was owned by the defendant. It was also discovered that the defendant left three days early for the scheduled trip that should have only taken three days, but took him six.
The shipping and receiving manager for the company that the defendant worked for stated that the trip should have only taken three days. She also stated that the load that the defendant was transporting arrived to the destination on time and at least 11 people were there to unload it. At least two of the people that were there to help unload the trailer did not know that they would be there at the time. She states that if the crew discovered over 200 pounds of marijuana, they would have contacted the police.
Court Discussion and Decision
The court is denying the claim of ineffective counsel as the defendant was properly represented. In the sufficiency of evidence claim the defendant argues that the government did not introduce enough evidence to support the verdict of the jury.
The court has reviewed the evidence of the case and while the evidence was not overwhelming, the court finds that it was sufficient to conclude that the defendant was aware of the contraband and had planned the trip in order to distribute the marijuana.
The court is affirming all charges against the defendant and the appeals are denied.
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