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United States v. Johnson
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
977 F.2d 1360 (1992)
Clay Johnson and three others (defendants) were charged with drug possession and distribution. At trial, the evidence against Johnson included two thermos bottles and a prescription-pill bottle that had been seized from Johnson’s vehicle as part of his arrest. A federal agent initially testified that he had found the items in Johnson’s vehicle and noticed that they smelled like methamphetamines. The testifying agent said that he gave the bottles to another law-enforcement officer to give to the state’s chemist for testing. The next day, the same agent testified that he gave the bottles directly to someone from the state chemistry lab. Johnson’s attorney never questioned the agent about the inconsistency. A chemist from the state lab testified about testing the bottles and finding that they contained amphetamine, also known as crank. The chemist recalled someone handing him the bottles at the arrest scene, but he did not remember who that person was. Another witness testified that he had seen thermos bottles of crank at Johnson’s residence. Johnson was convicted and appealed, arguing that the agent’s inconsistent testimony about the chain of custody for the bottles made it unreliable and inadmissible.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Tacha, J.)
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