US v. Garcia-Alvarez, Nos. 07-1471, 07-1697 affirms as carjacking conviction. Anyway, there are some pretty discrete legal issues. First, there seems to be no dispute that there is evidence that the defendant was making a call from somewhere other than where the crime was committed. Although this might indicate that the defendant didn’t do the crime, it isn’t good enough to justify a new trial, since it wasn’t really “newly discovered.” So the guy stays in jail for a long time.
The District Court denied a motion to suppress an eyewitness identification. But, rather than making findings or set out is reasoning, the District Court did not do this. In some circles this is considered smart, because the First then gets to figure out why the District Court did right. The First explains how the standard for suppressing an eyewitness identification is very high. United States v. de Jesús-Ríos, 990 F.2d 672, 677 (1st Cir. 1993). It requires that the defendant show that: first, that the identification was secured through impermissibly suggestive means; and second, that under the totality of the circumstances the suggestiveness of the identification is such that the identification itself is not reliable.
The First says there is no problem with an initial identification as a suspect just because someone had a family connection to someone else. Secondly, the removal of glasses isn’t “suggestive” because it was done to preserve uniformity in the lineup. Finally, making the lineup repeat a phrase wasn’t improper even though the defendant was the only person who spoke with a particular accent.
The First seems to say that this is suggestive, but then “weighs” the factors and concludes that there was a not a "very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification." So, the message is clear: in order to secure convictions, police should be advised to set up lineup where the “suspect” is the only one with a particular accent. The First has given the green light to that, and it will be done all the time now, because, well, the defendant is poor.
A photo-lineup challenge fails. The First says it wasn’t developed, but because I didn’t read the briefs, I don’t know if it really wasn’t developed or not.
There is also an interesting issue about how to assess “intent” in a carjacking case. The First says “ The intent required at the time of the vehicle taking, however, need not be set in stone. It will suffice that a defendant had a conditional intent to cause death or serious bodily harm; that is, a willingness to cause such injury if necessary to take the vehicle.”