United States v Vann

Vann appealed his drug convictions. The panel affirmed. It held that Vann failed to meet his burden at the time of voir dire in support of his Batson motion as the government offered four grounds and Vann only contradicted one. The panel noted that Vann presented the correct analysis in a motion for new trial and the district court properly concluded there was no basis to believe the proffered grounds were pretextual. The panel criticized Vann’s attorney for failing to object at some point during voir dire and noted other circuits have held objections waived or forfeited if not raised during voir dire. The panel admonished counsel that it is best practice to raise the Batson issues before evidence is presented. The panel affirmed the admission of expert testimony as the reliability determination was supported by the federal agents experience in drug investigations and opportunities to learn about the drug trade from criminals and other agents. The panel rejected Vann’s prosecutorial misconduct argument as the statements about codeine clearing airport security was an allowed inference to prove Vann’s taking the train was done with knowledge PCP was in his luggage and Vann’s admission he bought the PCP, suspicious use of the train instead of airplane and other factors provided a firm basis to convict. The panel finally held that the district court did not err when it allowed Vann to proceed pro se at sentencing because the district court explained the hazards of self-representation before trial and reiterated key points prior to sentencing including concerns Vann was firing attorneys for delay’s sake.

United States v Gilmore

Gilmore pled guilty to felon in possession of a firearm and appealed the denial of his motion to suppress. The panel affirmed. It held that, under the circumstances, officers had probable cause to believe Gilmore was intoxicated given his staring into space, lack of balance and meandering walk and distorted perceptions of time and space and that he was in danger as a result of his intoxication given the gangs in the neighborhood, possibility of being struck by a car or cattle and the cold weather which could have been fatal if Gilmore passed out. Thus, the officers acted appropriately in their community caretaking role and the apt down which discovered the firearm was constitutional.

In re Gold Resource Corporation Securities Litigation (Banker v Gold Resource Corporation)

Banker brought a class action securities fraud suit against Gold Resource and its directors. The district court dismissed with prejudice ruling the complaint failed to plead facts sufficient to create a strong inference of scienter. The panel affirmed. It held there was, at most, allegations of negligence in the way Gold resource communicated its production levels given the need to investigate and the delays inevitable in that investigation and negligence is insufficient to prove scienter. It further held that fraud is only as strong an inference as the nature of mining including water interfering with underground mining. Thus, dismissal was appropriate.