Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Robert W. Sweet, Judge).
United States v. Shaun Dozier
Rulings by summary order do not have precedential effect. Citation to a summary order filed on or after January 1, 2007, is permitted and is governed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 and this Court's Local Rule 32.1.1. When citing a summary order in a document filed with this Court, a party must cite either the Federal Appendix or an electronic database (with the notation "summary order"). A party citing a summary order must serve a copy of it on any party not represented by counsel.
At a stated term of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, held at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, in the City of New York, on the 23rd day of August, two thousand twelve.
PRESENT: JOSE A. CABRANES, CHESTER J. STRAUB, PETER W. HALL, Circuit Judges.
UPON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the judgment of the District Court is AFFIRMED.
Defendant-appellant Shaun Dozier ("Dozier") appeals from the June 29, 2011 judgment of conviction entered by the District Court, convicting him, following a jury trial, of (1) conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846; (2) distributing and possessing with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and 841(b)(1)(A); and (3) possessing and using a firearm in furtherance of a conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). Dozier was sentenced principally to 240 months of imprisonment and five years of supervised release. We assume the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts, the procedural history of this case, and the issues on appeal.
On appeal, Dozier argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) the closure of the courtroom during the testimony of an undercover officer, as well as the anonymous testimony of that officer, deprived him of a fair trial; and (4) the Government improperly bolstered the credibility of two cooperating witnesses by introducing their cooperation agreements during its direct case. We consider each of these issues in turn.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
We review sufficiency challenges de novo. United States v. Andino, 627 F.3d 41, 49 (2d Cir. 2010). A defendant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction "bears a heavy burden," United States v. Heras, 609 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted), as the standard of review is "exceedingly deferential," United States v. Hassan, 578 F.3d 108, 126 (2d Cir. 2008). In evaluating a sufficiency challenge, "we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, crediting every inference that could have been drawn in the government's favor, and deferring to the jury's assessment of witness credibility and its assessment of the weight of the evidence." United States v. Chavez, 549 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal citations, quotation marks, and alterations omitted). We will uphold the judgment of conviction if "any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979).
In this case, the evidence of Dozier's guilt was more than sufficient. The evidence presented at trial included the testimony of two cooperating witnesses and two undercover New York Police Department officers, as well as physical evidence from the undercover drug purchases, audio and video recordings of the undercover drug purchases, and recorded phone calls made by Dozier from a federal jail. Together, the trial proof demonstrated Dozier's long-term participation in a violent narcotics distribution conspiracy. The fact that Dozier characterizes the cooperating witnesses as "low-life citizens of the Bronx," does not permit us to disregard or discount their testimony on appeal, since we must "defer[ ] to the jury's assessment of witness credibility." Chavez, 549 F.3d at 126 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Dozier argues that his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance because counsel "would not permit" Dozier to testify on his own behalf at trial. "When faced with a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal, we may: (1) decline to hear the claim, permitting the appellant to raise the issue as part of a subsequent petition for [a] writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255; (2) remand the claim to the district court for necessary factfinding; or (3) decide the claim on the record before us." United States v. Morris, 350 F.3d 32, 39 (2d Cir. 2003). Because the record is insufficiently developed to ...