Monday, November 17, 2014

Ninth Circuit Overturns Obstruction Adjustment Based on Defendant's False Testimony

The Guidelines provide for a two-level upward adjustment for obstruction of justice.  USSG § 3C1.1.  Because Courts often apply this adjustment whenever a defendant is convicted after testifying in his own defense at trial, the adjustment serves as a disincentive to a defendant’s exercising that constitutional right – even though Application Note 2 states that that is not its intent.  Last month, the Ninth Circuit joined the Sixth and Tenth Circuits by adding a little more protection for defendants by requiring that a sentencing court not only find that the defendant gave false testimony, but also make explicit findings that it was material (that is, that it tends to exonerate the defendant), and that it was willful (i.e., that it was not the result of faulty memory, confusion, or mistake).  Because the district court had failed to make such findings, the Ninth Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded for further proceedings.  Hopefully on remand the defense will be able to demonstrate not only that any false testimony was not willful, but also that it was not material.  United States v. Castro-Ponce, 2014 WL 5394061 (9th Cir. Oct. 24, 2014).

No comments:

Post a Comment