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United States v. Estepa
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
471 F.2d 1132 (1972)
Charles Estepa (defendant), Francis Vasquez (Vasquez) (defendant), Jaime Vasquez, Rafael Perez, and Jose Luis Dones were federally charged with distributing heroin and related possession and conspiracy charges. An undercover officer, Jose Guzman, allegedly purchased heroin from the group of men several times. During the final transaction, after Guzman exchanged money for heroin with Jaime and Dones, Guzman signaled to surveillance agents, and Jaime and Dones were arrested. At the same time, other law-enforcement agents attempted to stop an unidentified driver and Estepa in a car a few blocks away. The driver sped away, and as police followed, the car’s occupants threw packages of heroin out of the windows. The agents ultimately arrested Estepa, and the driver escaped. The sole witness at the grand jury hearing was New York City Policeman Twohill. Twohill briefly admitted in response to the prosecutor’s (plaintiff) direct question that Twohill observed the final meeting between Guzman, Jaime, and Dones but could not see the actual drug transaction. Otherwise, Twohill related extremely detailed testimony regarding events that he, at most, could have only surveilled from afar, but neither Twohill nor the prosecutor informed the grand jury that much of Twohill’s testimony was hearsay. For example, Twohill described the high-speed chase and Estepa’s arrest without mentioning that Twohill neither observed nor participated in those events. The grand jury indicted the five men, and all five men were convicted. Estepa and Vasquez appealed and raised several issues, including challenges to the grand-jury indictment based on Twohill’s testimony.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Friendly, C.J.)
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