February 21, 2024
A CBP officer at a San Diego-area port of entry. Courtesy CBP

The U.S. Supreme Court docket on Monday agreed to listen to a California girl’s bid to overturn her conviction for smuggling medicine throughout the U.S.-Mexican border in a dispute over the scope of prosecution skilled witness testimony introduced to undermine her protection that she acted unwittingly as a “blind” drug mule.

The justices took up Delilah Guadalupe Diaz’s attraction that she filed after a decrease court docket rejected her bid to exclude the skilled witness’s testimony that had solid doubt on her declare that she didn’t know that methamphetamine valued at $368,550 was hidden within the door panels of the automobile she was driving.

A jury in federal court docket in San Diego discovered Diaz responsible in 2021 of illegally importing the methamphetamine, against the law that required information that she knew the medicine had been within the automobile.

Individuals who smuggle medicine throughout borders, generally known as “mules,” could achieve this for revenue but additionally generally do it unwittingly, transporting unlawful substances which have been planted on them. These people are also known as “blind” mules.

U.S. District Decide Anthony Battaglia allowed the prosecution’s skilled witness, a Homeland Safety particular agent, to testify that “in most circumstances, the driving force is aware of they’re employed.” The skilled additionally informed the jury that drug-trafficking organizations usually don’t entrust giant portions of medication to unknowing couriers.

Diaz’s attorneys contend that the testimony violated the longstanding Federal Guidelines of Proof governing the kinds of proof allowable in authorized circumstances. They’ve argued that the testimony broke a rule barring skilled witnesses from providing opinions on the “psychological state” of defendants associated to an alleged offense — whether or not they knew they had been committing against the law.

Border inspectors ordered Diaz, a resident of Moreno Valley, California, to roll down a window of the Ford Focus automobile she was driving and heard a “crunch-like” sound, later discovering 56 packages containing 24.5 kilograms of pure methamphetamine. Diaz denied information of the medicine.

She carried two cellphones — one locked that she couldn’t open — and claimed that the automobile belonged to a boyfriend she had visited in Mexico whose telephone quantity and residence she couldn’t establish. The automobile additionally had a hidden GPS gadget. Diaz was sentenced to seven years in jail.

The San Francisco-based ninth U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals in January rejected her attraction.

“We now have allowed such testimony as long as the skilled doesn’t present an ‘specific opinion’ on the defendant’s way of thinking, and the skilled didn’t achieve this right here,” the ninth Circuit said.

Diaz’s attorneys urged the Supreme Court docket to take up the attraction as a result of permitting generalizations throughout a trial that counsel a defendant have to be responsible is “grossly unfair.”