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United States v. Basurto

497 F.2d 781 (1974)

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United States v. Basurto

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

497 F.2d 781 (1974)

Facts

The appellants in three consolidated cases (the appellants) (defendants) were charged alongside 14 other people with conspiring to import and distribute marijuana from Mexico to the United States. The grand jury’s indictment named William Barron as a coconspirator but not a defendant. Barron testified to the grand jury that some of appellants’ allegedly illegal activities occurred before May 1, 1971. Before trial began, Barron told the prosecutor (plaintiff) that Barron had lied to the grand jury about everything predating May 1, 1971. Importantly, on May 1, 1971, a new drug-sentencing law took effect; if the appellants’ conspiracy began before May 1, the appellants faced a five-year-mandatory-minimum sentence, but if the conspiracy began after May 1, the appellants faced no mandatory-minimum sentence. The prosecutor informed the defense counsel of the perjury, but the prosecutor did not notify the grand jury or the court. The case proceeded to trial, and during opening statements, the prosecutor minimized the extent and importance of Barron’s perjury by claiming that although Barron lied about when he met various people, Barron was lying to protect a friend, and that that was the only material lie in Barron’s grand-jury testimony. The jury convicted the appellants. The appellants raised several issues, including a challenge to Barron’s perjured grand-jury testimony.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ferguson, J.)

Concurrence (Hufstedler, J.)

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