e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 76646
Opinion Date : 12/16/2021
e-Journal Date : 01/04/2022
Court : U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit
Case Name : United States v. Hall
Practice Area(s) : Criminal Law
Judge(s) : Gilman, Thapar, and Nalbandian
Full Text Opinion

Jury selection; Batson v Kentucky; Sentencing; Consideration of mitigating factors; United States v Johnson; Warrantless search of an automobile; California v Acevedo; Probable cause; United States v Brooks; Effect of a witness’s testimony as both an expert & a fact witness; Expert & lay opinion testimony; FRE 701 & 702; Comparing United States v Freeman & United States v Young; Testifying as to the ultimate issue; FRE 704; Authentication; FRE 901; Sufficiency of the evidence; Jackson v Virginia


Holding that there were no errors requiring reversal, the court affirmed the convictions of defendants-Hall and Franklin. They were convicted of engaging in a drug-trafficking conspiracy. The district court sentenced each of them to 360 months. On appeal, the court rejected Hall’s argument that the district court erred by rejecting his Batson challenge to the government’s peremptory strike of a black juror. “Hall argued that merely using one peremptory strike on a black juror is sufficient to establish a prima facie case. That is not the law.” Any error, moreover, “was harmless because the government established a facially valid, race-neutral reason for” removing the juror. It also rejected his claim that the district court abused its discretion by sentencing him to 360 months because it failed to consider his lack of a positive male role model, his mental-health issues, and his other history and characteristics, noting the sentence “was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable.” And it held that Hall’s "'off the charts’ criminal history outweighed these mitigating factors.” The court next rejected Franklin’s contention that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion to suppress statements made and contraband seized during a search of his vehicle because the officers allegedly lacked probable cause. “Initially, this probable cause derived from the controlled buy; later, this probable cause derived from the potent and persistent smell of marijuana in the vehicle. These circumstances gave the officers probable cause to search any place where drugs could be hidden.” It further rejected his argument that the district court erred by admitted Detective-S’s opinion testimony, noting that the government provided proper notice and laid the requisite foundation, and the testimony did not exceed the scope of S’s expertise. The court also found that the district court did not err by permitting S to identify “Cousin D’s” voice as that of Franklin, or by allowing another witness to identify Franklin as Cousin D. Finally, it rejected Franklin’s claim that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of five of the counts against him.

Full Text Opinion