scrutiny of and evaluation by the jury. That is significant because it implicates the question of whether a trial judge may accept a defendant's denial as credible and thus in fulfillment of the requirements of subsection (5), without impermissibly disregarding findings "necessarily implicit" in the jury's guilty verdict, as that phrase is used in Weston and Hourihan.
I think that the adjective "necessarily" is important to the analysis. The case for Manzano in respect of the safety valve provision would be much more difficult if she had testified at the trial, given the same account that she gave during the sentencing hearing, and the jury, having reflected upon that account, rejected it, as the jury would have to do to arrive at a guilty verdict. In those circumstances, it could be said that the jury's rejection of the defendant's version of the facts as incredible was necessarily implicit in its verdict. I do not think that can be said when the defendant does not testify. In that circumstance, what is necessarily implicit in the jury's verdict is its conclusion that the government offered sufficient evidence from other sources, direct or circumstantial, to sustain its burden of proof.
If that is a correct analysis, then I may credit Manzano's account and extend to her the benefit of the safety valve provision, without doing violence to the jury's verdict or to any finding necessarily implicit in that verdict. I believe this to be a correct analysis.
My third reason relates to questions of policy. The government stresses the finality of jury verdicts as a desirable policy. I agree; but other policies are implicated by § 3553(f)(5), a remedial statute which includes the word "reform" in the title bestowed upon it by Congress.
One must accept the reality that an individual, innocent of the crime charged, may yet be convicted by the jury on legally sufficient evidence. That possibility will exist so long as fallible men and women, rather than angels, administer the criminal justice system. Such a defendant, confronting a mandatory minimum sentence, will presumably wish to invoke the MMSRA. That is what Manzano seeks to do in the case at bar. A defendant meeting the first four statutory criteria - as does Manzano - must then satisfy the trial judge that the fifth criterion has been satisfied: that the defendant has told all that he or she can. If the judge finds that the defendant has done so, the MMSRA applies, whether or not the defendant's statement confers any benefit upon the government. But if the jury's guilty verdict precludes the judge from exercising his statutory function under § 3553(f)(5), as the government argues at bar, the consequences of a possibly mistaken verdict go unabated. I do not accept that proposition. The government may regard this analysis as judicial jury nullification. I regard it as the performance of a judicial responsibility mandated by Congress.
I conclude, therefore, that if I accept Manzano's testimony before me as credible, I may extend to her the benefits of the MMSRA. I consider her credibility under Point V.
I find that in her testimony before the Court, Manzano told all that she knew about the charged drug conspiracy. That is, of course, very little. I will state my reasons for finding Manzano to be a credible witness.
While Manzano is obviously an interested witness, it does not necessarily follow that she was not telling the truth. That is what trial judges traditionally tell jurors, and I apply that principle.
Manzano's demeanor while testifying was that of a forthright witness. Her account is inherently credible. It is not beyond the bounds of human experience that a 25-year old university student, untravelled and relatively unsophisticated, would be sufficiently impressed by an apparently well-established older man to accept his invitation to sample the bright lights and pleasures of Los Angeles and then New York. Manzano has no prior criminal record. There is no reason to doubt that when she first fell in with Sanchez, she was as she described herself: a student uneventfully pursuing a degree in civil engineering. The government offered no evidence that Manzano was referred to by the conspirators during their preparatory meetings in Miami and El Paso.
These circumstances do not exclude a spur of the moment request by Sanchez in Los Angeles, or on the plane to New York for that matter, that Manzano assist him in the drug transaction. But the question arises why he would do that. Noguera was on her way in the truck to New York with the drugs; several conspirators were foregathering there to receive the drugs and pass them along the illicit chain of commerce. The conspiracy's need for Manzano's assistance is not apparent. And Sanchez would prefer, one may assume, to limit the number of persons who knew he was a drug dealer. He would have a particular interest in concealing that aspect of his character from a young woman with whom he had become intimate.
The credibility of Manzano's account increases with the frailty of the government's evidence against her. That evidence, while in my view sufficient in law, is frail. The only incriminating statements ascribed to Manzano were described by Noguera, who as a conspirator and cooperating witness facing sentence had an interest in implicating others. Noguera's testimony about Manzano included factual stretches at key moments. On direct examination Noguera described her discussion with Manzano in the hotel lobby as follows:
Q. Then what happened?
A. Then he came back to me and we started talking. Then I move out of there because he was still waiting for the man to come back. I went to Monica. She was playing with her hair and she asked me if it was true.