Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITED STATES v. MEDJUCK

June 17, 1996

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL MEDJUCK, and ARTHUR JOHN JUNG, aka Charles Peter Sotirkys, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LYNCH

 I. INTRODUCTION

 Defendants Michael Medjuck and Charles Peter Sotirkys *fn1" , along with defendants Dennis Feroce, Jack Hayden, Raymond Ainge, Barry Shantz, and Larry Stanley, were charged in a 23-count superseding indictment with, inter alia, three counts of violating the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, ("MDLEA"), 46 U.S.C. § 1903, relating to the 70 tons of hashish on board the Lucky Star. *fn2" The MDLEA prohibits the possession, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. 46 U.S.C. § 1903. *fn3"

 This Court initially ruled that the government did not have the burden of showing a nexus between the defendants and the United States in order to proceed with this prosecution. The Court also ruled that, as a matter of law, the Lucky Star was a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. On April 16, 1993, defendant Medjuck entered a conditional plea of guilt, reserving the right to appeal the Court's ruling on the issue of nexus. On April 29, 1993, a jury returned a verdict of guilt on the three MDLEA counts against defendant Sotirkys. *fn4" Following the verdict against Sotirkys, on August 30, 1993, this Court issued an Order of Clarification holding that there was sufficient evidence of nexus, including both evidence that the conspiracy was conducted in part in the United States, and evidence "from which a reasonable jury could conclude that the hashish was intended for distribution in the United States." Defendants Medjuck and Sotirkys both appealed.

 In United States v. Medjuck, 48 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 1995), the Ninth Circuit ruled that this Court erred "by not submitting to the jury the question whether the Lucky Star was 'a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.'" Medjuck, 48 F.3d at 1110. Medjuck held that the statutory jurisdictional requirement of the MDLEA is an element of the offense and therefore a question for the jury. Id. The Medjuck court also ruled a prosecution pursuant to the MDLEA required a showing that it did not violate due process. Id. at 1110-11. The court held that "due process is not offended as long as there is a sufficient nexus between the conduct condemned and the United States." Id. at 1111. Medjuck held that this Court "erred by ruling as a matter of law that the government need not demonstrate nexus in this case." Id. The court held that "the government has the burden of demonstrating such a nexus and that the defendants should have the opportunity for rebuttal on remand." Id. The matter was reversed and remanded.

 In this opinion, the Court explains its reasoning on nexus issues. The Court holds that nexus is a question for the Court rather than for the jury, and that the government has the burden of showing nexus by a preponderance of the evidence. The Court also defines nexus, which is a due process requirement, is a connection between the criminal conduct and the United States sufficient to justify the United States' pursuit of its interests. Finally, the Court finds that nexus has been shown as to defendant Medjuck and defendant Sotirkys.

 II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

 A. Who Decides Nexus?

 The first question the Court addresses is that of who decides nexus, namely, whether it is a question for the Court or for the jury. Following the decision in Medjuck, all parties appeared to have assumed, as did this Court, that nexus was a matter for the Court to determine following an evidentiary hearing. In keeping with that assumption, an evidentiary hearing was scheduled. During the course of briefing regarding the hearing, defendants cited United States v. Amparo, 68 F.3d 1222 (9th Cir. 1995). In Amparo, a decision about whether possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun was, as a matter of law, a "crime of violence," the Ninth Circuit stated:

 
in Medjuck, we held that whether a vessel is within the jurisdiction of the United States -- an element of a maritime drug statute -- required a factual determination as to whether there was a nexus between the United States and the defendants. The court erroneously made that determination as a matter of law. It should have instructed that the jury must find nexus in order for the court to have jurisdiction.

 Id. at 1226.

 In addition, while the nexus hearing was being held, the Ninth Circuit's decision in the appeal of Raymond Ainge was rendered. Ainge, one of Medjuck's co-defendants, was convicted of, inter alia, the 3 MDLEA counts of the superseding indictment. In an unpublished, per curiam opinion, the Ninth Circuit stated:

 
We reversed in Medjuck because the district court failed to instruct the jury to establish the statutory and constitutional jurisdictional requirements for conviction under the MDLEA by finding that the Lucky Star was a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and that a sufficient nexus existed between the conduct condemned and the United States.

 United States v. Raymond Sander Ainge, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 8232, *3 (9th Cir. Apr. 2, 1996).

 Amparo and Ainge opened up the question of who decides the issue of nexus, and this question has been thoroughly briefed and argued. The statements in these two cases interpreting Medjuck as requiring that the question of nexus be submitted to the jury has given this Court serious pause, particularly in light of the fact that one Ninth Circuit judge heard the appeals of both Medjuck and Ainge. *fn5" However, the Court has carefully reviewed the Medjuck opinion, has analyzed the MDLEA and the case law interpreting it, and has reviewed the meaning of the due process requirement of nexus. In light of this analysis, and for the reasons set forth in greater detail infra, the Court is compelled to conclude that the statements in Amparo and Ainge are both dicta and inaccurate. For a number of reasons, the Court finds that it, rather than the jury, should determine nexus.

 1. Medjuck Decision

 In making this determination, the Court first looks to the Ninth Circuit's decision in Medjuck. There, the Ninth Circuit analytically separated the statutory and constitutional requirements of jurisdiction. In section 1 of its discussion, titled "Jurisdiction ", the Medjuck court noted that "defendants contend that the district court erred by determining as a matter of law that the statutory and constitutional requirements for assertion of subject matter jurisdiction were satisfied in this case." In subsection a, captioned "Statutory Requirements ", the Court held that whether a vessel is "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" "is an element of the crime charged and therefore must be decided by the jury." Medjuck, 48 F.3d at 1110. The Ninth Circuit explicitly held that it was error "not to submit the jurisdictional element to the jury." Id.6 In subsection b, titled "Constitutional Requirements ", the Ninth Circuit turned to the constitutional element of jurisdiction and held that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment required the government to demonstrate "a sufficient nexus between the conduct condemned and the United States." Id. at 1110-11. In its discussion of the constitutional requirements of jurisdiction, the Ninth Circuit did not say that the question of nexus was a question for the jury, as it explicitly held in discussing the statutory requirement that a vessel be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Instead, the Ninth Circuit held "neither defendant has had the opportunity to rebut the evidence relied upon by the district court in its clarification order." Id. at 1111. The Ninth Circuit did not state that it was error for the Court, rather than the jury, to make this determination, but rather found that it was error to do so in the absence of an opportunity for rebuttal by the defendants. It appears that if the Ninth Circuit were holding that the question of nexus was one for the jury, it would have expressly said so.

 A careful reading of Medjuck thus shows two holdings: first, the government must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the vessel is "a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" within the meaning of the MDLEA; second, the government "has the burden of demonstrating" a nexus between the "conduct condemned and the United States." Id. These two holdings are set forth in the Conclusion, in which the Ninth Circuit held "that the district court erred by not submitting the jurisdictional element of the crime to the jury and by ruling that the government was not required to demonstrate a nexus between defendants and the United States." Id.

 Not only does a close reading of Medjuck demonstrate that nexus is not a jury question, a review of the oral argument before the Ninth Circuit, although certainly not determinative, lends support to the proposition that it is a court question. At the beginning of oral argument, Judge Pamela Rymer questioned whether there were "two components to a jurisdictional inquiry" in this case, noting both the statutory element of jurisdiction, and the "overlay question of whether there is a due process, as to compliance and whether exercising jurisdiction enforcement in due process. Clearly, the due process inquiry, it seems to me, could not possibly be a jury question. " (Emphasis added.) To this statement, counsel for Medjuck agreed by saying "No." Counsel for Medjuck continued to contend that defendants were entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the issue, arguing that Medjuck was asking for the Ninth Circuit first to rule that nexus was required, secondly, to define nexus, and finally, to require an evidentiary hearing. He did not suggest in oral argument that nexus was a question to be submitted to the jury. Counsel for Sotirkys argued that based on the Court's pretrial ruling, he presented no evidence of nexus and submitted that he was entitled to a hearing on remand to determine whether nexus was shown as to him. He also did not argue in oral argument that he was entitled to present the question of nexus to the jury. In colloquy with counsel for the government, Judge Rymer stated that this Court "didn't instruct the jury to find [nexus]. Although, if the jury was to find, if the jury was instructed . . ." However, that inquiry was never pursued. Counsel for the government asserted that nexus could be proved at trial, and that an evidentiary hearing was not required.

 The Court is aware that statements of individual judges during an oral argument are not binding in any way. However, since the Court is in a position of resolving the ambiguities left by the decisions in Medjuck, Amparo, and Ainge, statements in oral argument are instructive. Several things can be gleaned from the colloquy. First, it suggests that the defendants explicitly sought an evidentiary hearing on remand, and did not ask for remand of the nexus issue to the jury. Second, it suggests that the focus of the judges on the panel was whether the defendants were entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Finally, the question of whether the issue could be determined at trial, rather than by an evidentiary hearing, was raised by counsel for the government. However, though invited to do so by the government, the Ninth Circuit did not explicitly rule that the nexus question should be submitted to the jury. Instead, the Medjuck opinion held that "the government has the burden of demonstrating such a nexus and the defendants should have an opportunity for rebuttal on remand." Medjuck, 48 F.3d at 1111. Accordingly, the decision in Medjuck, as illuminated by the oral argument, holds that an evidentiary hearing, rather than a jury determination, is required.

 2. Amparo and Ainge

 Both Amparo and Ainge read Medjuck as holding that nexus was a jury question. The Amparo Court stated that Medjuck held that this Court "should have instructed that the jury must find nexus in order for the court to have jurisdiction." Amparo, 68 F.3d at 1226. In Ainge, the Ninth Circuit stated that it had reversed in Medjuck because this Court did not submit both the statutory jurisdictional question and the constitutional nexus question to the jury. Ainge, slip op. at 2. A review of these cases demonstrates that these comments were both dicta and inaccurate readings of Medjuck.

 In Amparo, the issue before the Court was whether possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun was, as a matter of law, a "crime of violence" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B). The Amparo trial court instructed the jury that such possession is a crime of violence as a matter of law. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that the question is not properly committed to the jury. The court held "whether possession of a sawed-off shotgun is a crime of violence is a matter of law once the jury has determined the factual predicate that the defendant possessed an unregistered sawed-off shotgun." Id. at 1226. In dicta, the Amparo court distinguished its case from Medjuck, characterizing Medjuck as having held that this Court "should have instructed that the jury must find nexus in order for the court to have jurisdiction." Id. The Amparo court did not analyze the MDLEA, the meaning of nexus, or the jurisdictional prerequisites in a case involving a drug seizure on the high seas.

 While Ainge directly addressed the MDLEA, its reference to jury consideration of nexus was dicta. Defendant Ainge was convicted of three counts of violating the MDLEA and of several counts relating to the 2.4 ton California load. On appeal, he argued that his MDLEA convictions should be reversed because they

 
suffered from the same errors that compelled [the Ninth Circuit] to reverse codefendants' convictions in United States v. Medjuck. . . specifically, the refusals to instruct on the jurisdictional element essential under the MDLEA and to require the government to show nexus necessary to satisfy the Due Process Clause.

 In reversing Ainge's MDLEA convictions, the Ninth Circuit stated that the convictions of Medjuck and Sotirkys were reversed "because of infirmities in the jury instructions," slip op. at 2, and noted that the government conceded that Ainge's convictions "must be reversed for similar reasons." In rejecting Ainge's argument that the failure to instruct the jury on the jurisdictional element of the MDLEA tainted all of his convictions, the Ainge court stated:

 
We reversed in Medjuck because the district court failed to instruct the jury to establish the statutory and constitutional jurisdictional requirements for conviction under the MDLEA by finding that the Lucky Star was a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and that a sufficient nexus existed between the conduct condemned and the United States.

 Id. The quoted language appears to suggest that the "constitutional jurisdictional requirements for conviction under the MDLEA" are requirements on which the jury should be instructed. *fn7" However, it is dicta. The issue of whether the constitutional question of nexus was a jury question did not play a role in the Ninth Circuit's determination that errors in the jury instructions for the MDLEA counts did not taint the jury instructions regarding the other counts. Instead, the Ninth Circuit noted that "the district court instructed the jury separately with respect to the other counts, which had no such peculiar independent jurisdictional requirement." Id.

 Moreover, the parties in Ainge did not address the issue of whether the due process requirement is a question for the jury, nor did the Ainge court analyze that difficult question. Indeed Ainge did not complain to the Ninth Circuit that this Court failed to present the question of nexus to the jury. In fact, rather than asking for a jury determination of nexus, Ainge protested only that he "was deprived of any evidentiary hearing on nexus." Opening Brief at 12. The Ainge court's statement is dicta.

 In addition to referring to Medjuck's two holdings in dicta, it appears that both Amparo and Ainge have conflated those holdings. As stated above, a close reading of the Medjuck decision reveals two separate holdings. Because both holdings relate to jurisdictional requirements, albeit different jurisdictional requirements, it is apparent that a quick reading could merge the distinct analyses and conclusions. However, the Ninth Circuit separately considered and addressed the constitutional and statutory jurisdictional requirements of the MDLEA. The Medjuck court held that the statutory requirement that a vessel be "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" was a jury question. Medjuck, 48 F.3d at 1110. It also separately held that the MDLEA has a constitutional requirement of nexus, which the government must prove in an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 1110-11. The Medjuck court did not hold that the due process question of nexus should have been submitted to the jury. Id.

 3. MDLEA Authorities

 The Court next looks to whether other Ninth Circuit authority, or indeed any authority, requires the Court to submit the nexus issue to the jury. The parties have cited and the Court has located, no MDLEA case in which a jury, rather than the court, decides the issue of nexus. *fn8" Instead, it appears that the nexus question is routinely decided by courts rather than by juries.

 For instance, in United States v. Davis, 905 F.2d 245 (9th Cir. 1990), the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction was denied. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding "the facts found by the district court in denying Davis' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction" were "sufficient to establish a nexus between the Myth and the United States." Davis, 905 F.2d at 249 (emphasis added). Similarly, the issue of nexus appears to have been decided by the trial courts in both United States v. Aikens, 685 F. Supp. 732 (D. Hawaii 1988); on appeal United States v. Aikins, 946 F.2d 608 (9th Cir. 1990), and United States v. Peterson, 812 F.2d 486 (9th Cir. 1986). In Aikins, the issue was decided on a motion to suppress. Aikens, 685 F. Supp. at 741, Aikins, 946 F.2d at 611. Likewise, in Peterson, defendants moved to suppress evidence seized on the high seas. Following denial of their motion to suppress, the defendants entered conditional pleas of guilt and were convicted of conspiracy by the district court on stipulated facts. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, concluding that jurisdiction over the defendants was proper because there was "more than a sufficient nexus with the United States." Peterson, 812 F.2d at 493.

 More recently, in United States v. Kahn, 35 F.3d 426 (9th Cir. 1994), the defendants *fn9" moved to dismiss arguing that the MDLEA as applied to them violated the Due Process Clause. The motion to dismiss was denied, and the defendants entered conditional pleas of guilt, reserving the right to challenge the jurisdictional issue. The district court found that there was a sufficient nexus, United States v. Rasheed, 802 F. Supp. 312 (D. Hawaii 1992), and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Kahn, 35 F.3d 426. The Kahn court nowhere suggested that the district court erred in deciding the motion to dismiss, or in failing to find that due process was a question for the jury.

 Based on this authority, this Court finds that case law does not support turning the question of nexus over to the jury.

 4. Statutory Construction

 The Court next considers the MDLEA itself. Although the plain language of the statute itself does not contain a nexus requirement, the Ninth Circuit has imposed one in certain types of MDLEA prosecutions. See, e.g., Davis, 905 F.2d at 248-49 ("In order to apply extraterritorially, a federal criminal statute to a defendant consistently with due process, there must be a sufficient nexus between the defendant and the United States so that application would not be arbitrary or fundamentally unfair."); see also, Medjuck, 48 F.3d at 1111; Aikins, 946 F.2d at 613.

 Defendants argue that although nexus is not mentioned in the MDLEA, it should be considered an element of the offense, and therefore a question for the jury. They argue that the term "a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" is subject to judicial gloss, and that such gloss includes the constitutional nexus requirement. In support, Medjuck cites United States v. Nash, 76 F.3d 282 (9th Cir. 1996). In that case, the Ninth Circuit held that while 18 U.S.C. § 1014, which prohibits false statements to banks, does not expressly require such false statements to be material, materiality was an element of the offense which must be decided by the jury. Id. at 284. See also, United States v. Gaudin, 132 L. Ed. 2d 444, 115 S. Ct. 2310, 2313 (1995) ("materiality" is an element of the offense proscribed in 18 U.S.C. § 1001); United States v. Nukida, 8 F.3d 665 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding the term "affecting interstate commerce" is an element of offense to be submitted to jury). Medjuck argues that similarly, although nexus is not expressly required by the MDLEA, it should be considered an element of the offense and therefore decided by the jury.

 This argument fails as a matter of logic. The MDLEA provides that any one of the following types of vessels can be "a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States": (A) "a vessel without nationality"; (B) "a vessel assimilated to a vessel without nationality" as defined in the 1958 Convention on the High Seas; (C) "a vessel registered in a foreign nation where the flag nation has consented or waived objection to the enforcement of United States Law by the United States"; (D) "a vessel located within the customs waters of the United States"; or (E) "a vessel located in the territorial waters of another nation, where the nation consents to the enforcement of United States law by the United States." 46 U.S.C. § 1903(c)(1)(A)-(E). If nexus were a judicial gloss on the meaning of "a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States," logic dictates that nexus would have to be shown in prosecutions involving each of the types of vessels enumerated in the MDLEA. However, this is not the case. In United States v. Juda, 46 F.3d 961, 965 (9th Cir. 1990), the Ninth Circuit held that nexus need not be shown with respect to a "vessel without nationality," 46 U.S.C. § 1903(c)(1)(A), that is, a stateless vessel. The Juda court found that "neither our court, nor any other circuit, however, has ever held that a nexus requirement is constitutionally required to support jurisdiction over a stateless vessel." Juda, 46 F.3d at 966-67. Recently, the Ninth Circuit observed that the MDLEA "extends the United States' jurisdiction over stateless vessels on the high seas without enumerating any further requirements, and particularly without requiring that there be a nexus between a defendant's conduct aboard a stateless vessel and the United States." United States v. Caicedo, 47 F.3d 370, 371 (9th Cir. 1995). *fn10"

 If nexus were a component of the jurisdictional element of the offense, it would of necessity have to be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt in every MDLEA prosecution since all elements of an offense must be proved to the jury. Gaudin, 115 S. Ct. at 2313. As an element of the offense, it would have to be proved in prosecutions involving stateless vessels as well as vessels in which the flag nation has consented to jurisdiction. There is no statutory or logical reason to find that nexus is an element in certain MDLEA prosecutions and not in others. Because nexus is not required in MDLEA prosecutions involving stateless vessels, it is necessarily not an element of the crime. Since nexus cannot be an element of the offense, the authorities cited by the defendants for the proposition that all elements of an offense must be provided to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt are therefore inapposite. See, e.g., Gaudin, 115 S. Ct. at 2313; Nash, 76 F.3d at 284; Nukida, 8 F.3d at 672. The Court thus finds that the MDLEA does not require that nexus be proved to the jury.

 5. Analogous Questions

 Courts have held that constitutional questions that are unrelated to guilt or innocence are to be resolved by the court rather than by the jury. Learned author Charles Wright noted that there is little case law on this issue, but that "what there is distinguishes between the issue of guilt and innocence, for which a jury is required, and issues affecting the government's right to prosecute, for which no jury is needed." 1 Wright, Federal Practice and Procedure: Criminal 2d § 194 (1982). Courts have found that challenges to the institution of a prosecution are appropriately directed to the trial court, and not the jury. For example, in United States v. MacDougall, 790 F.2d 1135, 1141 (4th Cir. 1986), the Fourth Circuit considered whether a prosecution violated the Fifth Amendment's bar on double jeopardy. In deciding that the matter was one for the court, the MacDougall court held that a double jeopardy challenge does not go to guilt or innocence, but instead goes to "the right of the government to bring the action itself." Id. at 1141. MacDougall committed the double jeopardy question to the court rather than a jury, determining, "the appellants' double jeopardy claims did not implicate the issue of appellants' guilt or innocence, which a jury must decide, but rather the right of the government to bring the action itself. Guilt or innocence is immaterial to the disposition of double jeopardy claims." Id. Similarly, in United States v. Berrigan, 482 F.2d 171 (3d Cir. 1973), defendants challenged their prosecution as discriminatory in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The Third Circuit held that "the question of discriminatory prosecution relates not to the guilt or innocence of appellants, but rather addresses itself to a constitutional defect in the institution of the prosecution." Id. at 175. The Berrigan court held that this constitutional question is one for the court and not the jury. Id.

 In other circumstances, constitutional questions are also resolved by trial courts rather than juries. For example, it is well settled that a court and not a jury determines the constitutional question of whether a confession is voluntary or not. United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 678, 65 L. Ed. 2d 424, 100 S. Ct. 2406 (1980); Lego v. Twomey, 404 U.S. 477, 30 L. Ed. 2d 618, 92 S. Ct. 619 (1972). Answering this question does "not coincide with the criminal law objective of determining guilt or innocence." Raddatz, 447 U.S. at 678. In determining the voluntariness of a confession, the trial court holds a hearing. While the issue in a suppression hearing is in part evidentiary, and therefore a question for the court pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a), it is also a constitutional question and equally directed to the court. Id. at 678, n.4.

 Similarly, due process rights are decided by the court in a hearing pursuant to United States v. Kastigar, 406 U.S. 441, 32 L. Ed. 2d 212, 92 S. Ct. 1653 (1972). In a Kastigar hearing, the court determines whether the government has borne its burden of showing that evidence used against a witness who has given compelled testimony is not derived from that compelled testimony. Id. This due process question, which does not involve matters of guilt or innocence, is a question for the court. Id.

 Likewise, the issue of government misconduct is one for the court rather than a jury. Government misconduct cases present the question of whether "the conduct of law enforcement agents is so outrageous that due process principles would absolutely bar the government from invoking judicial processes to obtain a conviction." United States v. Russell, 411 U.S. 423, 431-32, 36 L. Ed. 2d 366, 93 S. Ct. 1637 (1973). *fn11" The "defense" of governmental misconduct is a question for the court. See, e.g., United States v. Bogart, 783 F.2d 1428 (9th Cir. 1986), vacated only as to separate defendant in United States v. Wingender, 790 F.2d 802 (9th Cir. 1986). However, "although outrageous governmental conduct is sometimes referred to as a 'defense,' it is not an affirmative defense to entrapment. Rather, this 'defense' is merely a claim that the government's conduct was so outrageous that due process principles require dismissal of the indictment." United States v. Slaughter, 891 F.2d 691, 695 (9th Cir. 1989). In such cases, the trial court holds an evidentiary hearing on the "jurisdictional challenge" to the prosecution. United States v. Matta-Ballesteros, 71 F.3d 754, 764 (9th Cir. 1995) (trial court held limited evidentiary hearing on defendant's "jurisdictional challenge" based on claim that he was tortured by government agents); Bogart, 783 F.2d at 1422 (matter remanded for trial court's findings of fact on due process challenge of outrageous government conduct). See also, Slaughter, 891 F.2d at 696 (trial court held evidentiary hearing on issue of outrageous government conduct).

 Defendant Medjuck argued at oral argument (but not in any of his briefs) that the question of nexus is analogous to entrapment, which is a question for the jury and not the court. Mathews v. United States, 485 U.S. 58, 63, 99 L. Ed. 2d 54, 108 S. Ct. 883 (1988). The Court disagrees. The Supreme Court has held that "the issue whether a defendant has been entrapped is for the jury as part of its function of determining the guilt or innocence of the accused." Sherman v. United States, 356 U.S. 369, 377, 2 L. Ed. 2d 848, 78 S. Ct. 819 (1958) (footnote omitted). However, as just discussed, questions relating to guilt or innocence go to the jury; constitutional questions do not. The nexus question, like inquiries into outrageous government conduct or double jeopardy or discriminatory prosecution (but unlike entrapment), does not ask whether the defendant had the mens rea and actus reus necessary for committing the crime alleged, or whether the government can prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, nexus is simply a question of whether the United States can, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.