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United States v. Lobo

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT


decided: May 14, 1975.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
MARIO LOBO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

Appeal from judgment of conviction entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Jacob Mishler, J., for narcotics violations.

Kaufman, Chief Judge, Oakes, Circuit Judge, and Jameson, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Per Curiam

Lobo's sole ground for appeal is based on the flight during trial of his codefendant, Aurelio Martinez-Martinez. After declaring Martinez-Martinez's $100,000 bail forfeit, Judge Mishler permitted the joint trial to proceed, and the jury convicted Lobo and Martinez-Martinez in absentia. The jury was properly instructed that although flight is probative of guilt, evidence of the flight should be considered only against Martinez-Martinez. Lobo contends that the limiting instruction was inadequate in light of Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 20 L. Ed. 2d 476, 88 S. Ct. 1620 (1968), where a limiting instruction was held insufficient to dispel the prejudice resulting from a hearsay confession of a defendant inculpating his codefendant.

We fail to see, however, that Martinez-Martinez's decision to flee implied the guilt of anyone but himself; indeed, Lobo's continued presence, by contrast, might have been viewed by the jury as belief in his own innocence. It seems clear that Bruton has no application to hearsay utterances of a defendant*fn1 that do not inculpate a codefendant. United States v. Mulligan, 488 F.2d 732, 737 (9th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 417 U.S. 930, 41 L. Ed. 2d 233, 94 S. Ct. 2640 (1974); United States v. Davis, 487 F.2d 112, 124 (5th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S. 981, 39 L. Ed. 2d 878, 94 S. Ct. 1573 (1974); United States v. Lomprez, 472 F.2d 860, 863 (7th Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 411 U.S. 965, 36 L. Ed. 2d 685, 93 S. Ct. 2144 (1973). See also United States v. Deutsch, 451 F.2d 98, 116 (2d Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 1019, 30 L. Ed. 2d 667, 92 S. Ct. 682 (1972); United States ex rel. Nelson v. Follette, 430 F.2d 1055 (2d Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 917, 91 S. Ct. 899, 27 L. Ed. 2d 818 (1971); United States v. Cusumano, 429 F.2d 378, 381 (2d Cir.), cert. denied sub nom., 400 U.S. 830, 91 S. Ct. 61, 27 L. Ed. 2d 61 (1970); United States v. Tropiano, 418 F.2d 1069, 1080-81 (2d Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 1021, 25 L. Ed. 2d 530, 90 S. Ct. 1262 (1970); United States ex rel. LaBelle v. Mancusi, 404 F.2d 690 (2d Cir. 1968).

Thus, Lobo's argument is reduced to the claim that his fate and that of Martinez-Martinez were so inextricably linked that evidence of Martinez-Martinez's guilt implied his own guilt as well. It is plain that in the circumstances present here, the inference is insubstantial, see Bruton, supra, 391 U.S. at 135-36, and the jury could easily disregard it under the proper limiting instruction given by Judge Mishler. As we said in United States v. Sparano, 422 F.2d 1095, 1099 (2d Cir. 1970):

We agree and hold that, to constitute a violation, the inference [of defendant's guilt] would have to be clear and practically inescapable.

Lobo has failed to make such a showing here.

Affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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