U.S. v. Nwoye

824 F.3d 1129 (2016)

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U.S. v. Nwoye

United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit
824 F.3d 1129 (2016)

Facts

In 2007 the United States (the government) (plaintiff) charged Queen Nwoye (defendant) with extortion. At trial, Nwoye testified that her boyfriend, Adriane Osuagwu, had forced her to participate in his extortion scheme. Nwoye testified that her relationship with Osuagwu was abusive and that he frequently threatened to kill her. Nwoye also alleged that Osuagwu threatened to beat her if she did not participate in the extortion scheme. Following Nwoye’s testimony, her defense counsel requested a duress instruction. The district court denied the request on the ground that Nwoye had not demonstrated that she lacked a reasonable alternative to participating in the extortion scheme. Nwoye was found guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion. Nwoye appealed on the ground that she was entitled to the duress instruction. The appellate court affirmed the trial court. Nwoye then sought to vacate the conviction on the ground that her defense counsel had provided ineffective assistance. Nwoye claimed that her defense counsel had failed to introduce expert testimony on battered-woman’s syndrome, and because of this error, Nwoye had not been entitled to instructions on a duress defense. The district court held a hearing on the matter, during which an expert testified that Nwoye had been battered in her relationship with Osuagwu. After the hearing, the district court found that Nwoye had not established ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court explained that even with the expert testimony, Nwoye would not have been entitled to a duress instruction, because there was no evidence to satisfy the no-reasonable-alternative requirement. Nwoye appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kavanaugh, J.)

Dissent (Sentelle, J.)

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