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United States v. Pennington

20 F.3d 593 (1994)

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United States v. Pennington

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

20 F.3d 593 (1994)

Facts

The United States government (plaintiff) prosecuted John Wayne Pennington and John Mitchell Margiotta (defendants), a pair of novice truckers, for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The trial evidence established that a customs agent stopped the pair's overweight truck. On inspecting the truck, the agent's drug-sniffing dog found 591 pounds of marijuana at the back of the truck, hidden behind the truck's legitimate cargo, which was contained in 3,200-pound pallets of tile. The truckers took no part in loading the cargo, and they left the truck unlocked overnight because the pallets were too heavy for anyone to steal. The truckers seemed disheveled despite having just had a good night's sleep in a motel, but they did not seem nervous or try to flee, nor did they carry a suspiciously large amount of cash. However, the truckers could not answer and tried to fend off the agent's questions about why the truckers were behind schedule or taking an unnecessarily circuitous route. The jury convicted the pair, and they appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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