United States v. Mikos

539 F.3d 706 (2008)

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United States v. Mikos

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
539 F.3d 706 (2008)

Facts

Ronald Mikos (defendant) was a podiatrist who committed Medicare fraud by submitting thousands of claims to Medicare for surgeries that he never performed. Mikos tried to prevent his former patients from testifying before a grand jury regarding surgeries they never had, even killing one patient who was cooperating with the investigation by shooting her six times. A jury convicted Mikos of murder and other crimes and imposed a death sentence. Mikos appealed, raising various arguments, including that he should have been permitted to have the services of a jury-selection expert at taxpayer expense. The United States Constitution and the federal Criminal Justice Act gave defendants the right to the services of experts who were needed to combat the prosecutor’s case, addressing issues related to guilt and sentencing. However, defendants who relied on taxpayer funds, such as Mikos, were entitled to a competent expert, not the most expensive expert or a substitute expert if the defense believed the expert’s opinion was not beneficial to the defendant. In that regard, Mikos requested and received the services of a ballistics expert, though not the particular expert that he wanted, whose expenses would have exceeded a statutory cap. Defendants also had the right to a fair trial decided by unbiased jurors. When Mikos requested to hire a jury-selection expert at taxpayer expense, a district judge denied Mikos’s request. It was not clear that jury selection was a true field of expertise. In addition, the role of a jury-selection expert was to bias a jury to the defendant’s benefit. Stated differently, a jury-selection expert’s purpose was to discover the slight signs of bias within members of a jury pool that lawyers and judges might not notice unless those signs were uncovered in a scientific way. The prosecutor in Mikos’s case did not use a jury-selection expert.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Easterbrook, C.J.)

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