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United States of America v. Jorge Cedeno

May 2, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
JORGE CEDENO, A/K/A MIGUEL, ANGEL DIAZ, A/K/A PETE, RAFAEL RODRIGUEZ,A/K/A DANCE, VICTOR DIAZ, A/K/A GAGO, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, GERMAN CUADRADO, A/K/A GERALDO, JORGE FLORES, JUAN CAMACHO, SAILE PARRA, PLUTARCO ANGULO-AGUIRRE, A/K/A MATATAN, A/K/A PLATANO, DEFENDANTS.*FN1



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (McMahon, J.) convicting defendant-appellant Jorge Cedeno of kidnapping, armed robbery, and related offenses.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chin, Circuit Judge:

09-1857-cr(L)

United States v. Cuadrado (Cedeno)

Argued: March 23, 2011

Before: JACOBS, Chief Judge, and CALABRESI and CHIN, Circuit Judges.

AFFIRMED.

In this case, defendant-appellant Jorge Cedeno was convicted of kidnapping, robbery, and related crimes. He was sentenced principally to 319 months' imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the district court improperly limited cross-examination of a government witness at trial by barring his use of a state court's finding that the witness had given false testimony in a prior judicial proceeding. We conclude that the district court's evidentiary ruling was erroneous, but find that the error was harmless. Accordingly, we affirm.*fn2

BACKGROUND

Before trial in this case, the government moved in limine to preclude the defense from cross-examining one of its witnesses, Detective Robert Goldrick, about a prior adverse credibility finding made by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. In 1990, the Appellate Division refused to credit Goldrick's testimony at a suppression hearing because it concluded that he had "patently tailored" his testimony to avoid suppression of evidence discovered at a traffic stop. People v. Miret- Gonzalez, 159 A.D.2d 647, 649-50 (2d Dep't 1990). In other words, the Appellate Division found that Goldrick had lied. The district court granted the government's motion, holding as follows:

The Appellate Division's adverse credibility finding reflects only a finding that Detective Goldrick "lacked credibility as to his testimony in that case, not that he was lacking in veracity generally." See United States v. Cruz, 894 F.2d 41[, 43] (2d Cir. 1990). Detective Goldrick will not be testifying before the jury about the constitutionality of a search, the issue before the Appellate Division. In the absence of any connection between the finding of tailoring in the case before the Appellate Division and his purported testimony in the case at bar, it cannot be said that [the] Appellate Division[']s finding is relevant to the detective[']s testimony in the present case. See Cruz, 894 F.2d at 42-43.

United States v. Angulo-Aguirre, No. 07 Cr. 387, at *13 (S.D.N.Y. May 9, 2008) (footnote omitted).

Notwithstanding its ruling on the government's motion, the district court allowed Cedeno's co-defendant to cross-examine Goldrick regarding the same credibility finding at a pretrial suppression hearing, on grounds that the co-defendant had raised Fourth Amendment objections "similar in nature" to the objections raised by the defendant in Miret-Gonzelez. See id. at *13 n.1. Cedeno was tried, convicted, and sentenced. This appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

We review a trial court's decision to limit the scope of cross-examination for abuse of discretion. United States v. Figueroa, 548 F.3d 222, 226 (2d Cir. 2008). A district court abuses its discretion "when (1) its decision rests on an error of law (such as application of the wrong legal principle) or a clearly erroneous factual finding, or (2) its decision -- though not necessarily the product of a legal error or a clearly erroneous factual finding -- cannot be located within the range of permissible decisions." Id. at 226 (internal quotation marks omitted). Even if a reviewing court finds error, a new trial is ...


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