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United States v. Manske

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
186 F.3d 770 (1999)



Thomas Manske (defendant) was tried in federal district court for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. At trial, Stephen Pszeniczka and Daniel Knutowski testified that they received weekly deliveries of cocaine from Manske and that he was their primary supplier. The government’s case rested almost entirely on the testimony of these two witnesses. In defense, Manske asserted that he engaged in illegal gambling activities with Pszeniczka and Knutowski and that their weekly meetings were related to gambling. The government (plaintiff) moved in limine to prevent Manske from cross-examining Pszeniczka on threats of physical violence he made to witnesses in a related case and to prevent cross-examination of two other government witnesses regarding the threats made by Pszeniczka. Manske sought to show on cross-examination, based on Jeffrey Matter’s sworn statement to police, that Pszeniczka had threatened to kill Matter, if Matter did not change his story. Matter did change his story and Pszeniczka threatened Matter again in case Matter returned to his original story. Manske also wanted to show through cross-examination, and based on witness statements to police, that Pszeniczka had threatened Mary Colburn and Jackie Campbell, both of whom were government witnesses in Manske’s trial. Colburn was prepared to discuss finding in her yard dolls with nooses around their necks and a sign saying “Narcs live here,” and “You’re dead.” The government argued that the threats were not probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness and only showed “propensity for violence.” The district court granted the government’s motion in limine. Manske was convicted and appealed his conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, arguing that the district court erred by failing to admit the evidence regarding Pszeniczka’s threats under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 608(b).

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Flaum, J.)

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