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United States of America v. Floyd Artis

April 26, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
FLOYD ARTIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont (Christina Reiss, Chief Judge).

12-992-cr

United States v. Artis

SUMMARY ORDER

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 Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, in the City of New York, on the 26th day of April, two thousand thirteen.

PRESENT: GUIDO CALABRESI, DEBRA ANN LIVINGSTON, GERARD E. LYNCH, Circuit Judges.

UPON DUE CONSIDERATION, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that the judgment of the District Court is AFFIRMED.

Defendant-Appellant Floyd Artis appeals from a judgment of conviction, entered March 7, 2012, following a jury trial for conspiracy to distribute heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(B), 846, and 851. Artis makes three claims on appeal: (1) that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction; (2) that the district court erred in not requiring the government to produce notes from a witness interview pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 26.2 and the Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3500; and (3) that the district court erred in not excluding a witness's statement as hearsay. We assume the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts, procedural history of the case, and issues on appeal, which we reference only as necessary to explain our decision to affirm.

1. Sufficiency of the Evidence

"We review de novo a challenge to sufficiency of the evidence." United States v. Naiman, 211 F.3d 40, 46 (2d Cir. 2000). It is well-established that a defendant seeking to overturn a conviction on a sufficiency challenge faces a heavy burden. United States v. Gaskin, 364 F.3d 438, 459 (2d Cir. 2004). We "must affirm if the evidence, when viewed in its totality and in the light most favorable to the government, would permit any rational jury to find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Geibel, 369 F.3d 682, 689 (2d Cir. 2004). We "credit[] every inference that the jury might have drawn in favor of the government," United States v. Walker, 191 F.3d 326, 333 (2d Cir. 1999), and assume that the jury resolved all disputes over witness credibility in favor of the government, Gaskin, 364 F.3d at 460.

To prove Artis conspired to distribute heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base, the government had to show that Artis "agreed with another to commit the offense; that he knowingly engaged in the conspiracy with the specific intent to commit the offenses that were the objects of the conspiracy; and that an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy was committed." United States v. Monaco, 194 F.3d 381, 386 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted). Having reviewed the evidence, we conclude that a rational jury could have found each of these elements satisfied. Multiple witnesses testified to Artis's central role in a drug dealing conspiracy, and additional documentary evidence, including cell phone data, rental car receipts, and wire transfers corroborated the witness testimony. Artis argues that each of the government's witnesses had motivation to lie and that the evidence indicates that the witnesses were actually seasoned drug dealers who framed him. However, a rational jury could have credited the government's witnesses, drawn inferences in the government's favor, and rejected Artis's alternate theory. See United States v. Martinez, 54 F.3d 1040, 1042-43 (2d Cir. 1995) ("The government's case need not exclude every possible hypothesis of innocence, and it is the task of the jury, not the court, to choose among competing inferences." (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)).

Artis suggests that no rational jury could have convicted him of the charged conspiracy because "[n]o drugs were recovered and no expert testimony [was] presented concerning what substance(s) were actually possessed and/or distributed by the alleged co-conspirators." Appellee's Br. at 34-35. As we have said, however, "[l]ay testimony and circumstantial evidence may be sufficient, without the introduction of an expert chemical analysis, to establish the identity of the substance involved in an alleged narcotics transaction." United States v. Bryce, 208 F.3d 346, 353 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting United States v. Dolan, 544 F.2d 1219, 1211 (4th Cir. 1976)); see also Gaskin, 364 F.3d at 460 ("[N]either actual drug exhibits nor reports of chemical analysis are required to support a conviction for possession of a controlled substance."). Here, the witnesses testified to the appearance of the alleged drugs, the method of preparation, the effects the drugs had on experienced users, the high price paid for the drugs, and the fact that Artis referred to the substances using names of illegal narcotics. See Bryce, 208 F.3d at 353-54. Similarly, witness testimony regarding the quantity of drugs supports the jury's determination that Artis conspired to distribute in excess of 28 grams of cocaine base. Accordingly, Artis's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence fails.

2. Jencks Act

Artis next argues that the district court improperly applied the Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. ยง 3500, and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 26.2 when, after in camera review of an Assistant United States Attorney's ("AUSA") interview notes of Colleen Chapman, a government witness, the court ...


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