Defendant is being prosecuted in federal district court on multiple counts of wire fraud. The alleged fraud arises out of a scheme to swindle Accuser.
The scheme began when Defendant agreed to help Accuser negotiate an adoption for a child from Asia. To start this process, Accuser sent Defendant $10,000 via wire transfer. Two months later, Defendant requested additional funds “to pay local fees.” Accuser thus sent Defendant another $5,000, also via wire transfer.
A month later, Defendant informed Accuser that due to unforeseen circumstances, the adoption would be impossible. Defendant also told Accuser that he could not refund the $15,000 Accuser had given him, as the money was already spent. Defendant never replied to Accuser’s follow-up emails. Accuser took this story to the press. The issue eventually drew the attention of national media outlets, as well as the U.S. attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.
At trial, the prosecution’s theory was that Defendant made no efforts to negotiate the adoption, and instead escaped with the $15,000. Accuser testified about his financial transactions with Defendant, stating that he trusted Defendant’s explanation of the adoption process. Accuser also stated that Defendant guaranteed that the adoption would occur.
On cross-examination, defense counsel asked whether Accuser had negotiated a book contract concerning the story of Defendant’s alleged crime against him. The district judge overruled the prosecutor’s objection to this question. Accuser denied having negotiated a book contract.
Defense counsel then asked Accuser, “Isn’t it true that a week before Defendant told you the adoption would not be possible, you emailed your sister, stating you were worried that you had spent $15,000 for nothing?”
Accuser responded, “I don’t think I said that.”
Defense counsel continued: “Isn’t it true that you emailed your sister that these foreign adoptions were a, quote, ‘crapshoot,’ end quote?”
Accuser asked to see the email, but defense counsel refused to show it. The prosecutor objected to the refusal, asking “How can I conduct re-direct if the witness isn’t allowed to see this supposed email?” The judge overruled the objection, saying, “I don’t think that’s necessary.” The prosecutor then objected to the last two questions that defense counsel asked Accuser. The prosecutor asked that these questions, and Accuser’s answers, be stricken from the record. The judge overruled this objection. Accuser answered, “I may have written that, but--”
Defense counsel cut Accuser off, saying “Thank you, no further questions.” The prosecutor sought on re-direct to ask why Accuser might have written that foreign adoptions were a “crapshoot.” Defense counsel objected to this question, and the judge sustained the objection.
After the prosecution rested, defense counsel called, as a witness, a book acquisition editor at a major publisher. Defense counsel proceeded to ask the editor whether the publisher had reached an agreement with Accuser to publish a non-fiction book about the adoption controversy. Before the editor could answer, the prosecutor objected. The judge overruled the objection. The editor answered that such an agreement was in place.
- Was the judge correct to overrule the prosecutor’s objection to the cross-examination asking whether Accuser had negotiated a book contract? Explain.
- Was the judge correct to overrule the prosecutor’s objection to defense counsel’s refusal to show the email to Accuser? Explain.
- Was the judge correct to (1) allow defense counsel to prevent Accuser from explaining the email and (2) sustain defense counsel’s objection to the prosecutor’s attempted re-direct examination about the email? Explain, assuming that the email itself is relevant and not excludable as hearsay.
- Was the judge correct to overrule the prosecutor’s objection to the direct examination of the book acquisition editor? Explain.