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US v. Doss, No. 07-50334

By FindLaw Staff on January 20, 2011 2:46 PM

Sex Trafficking Conviction Partially Affirmed

In US v. Doss, No. 07-50334, the court affirmed in part defendant's conviction and life sentence for sex trafficking of children, transportation of minors into prostitution, conspiracy to commit those offenses, and two counts of witness tampering where 1) the jury reasonably found that defendant's remarks were intended to encourage a witness to lie when she was to provide testimony; and 2) even if some of the government's comments were improper vouching, the government's unobjected-to comments did not rise to the level of plain error resulting in a miscarriage of justice.  However, the court vacated in part where 1) the evidence at trial established only that defendant appealed to his wife to exercise her marital privilege not to testify against him; and 2) the district court needed to conduct a new sentencing proceeding to determine, applying a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, whether defendant's prior sex conviction indeed involved a minor under the federal definition.

 

As the court wrote:  "Juan Rico Doss ("Doss") appeals his conviction and life sentence for sex trafficking of children, transportation of minors into prostitution, conspiracy to commit those offenses, and two counts of witness tampering. The issue before us is whether one can be convicted for witness tampering under 18 U.S.C. § 1512 by encouraging a witness to withhold testimony when that witness possesses a legal right or privilege not to testify."

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