Expert Article Library

Conclusions on Mental State are Left for the Jury

Case Name: United States v. Clydell Younger (http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/coa/newopinions.nsf/2FA9092E89FA76FA88256FB70001596D/$file/0410206.pdf?openelement)

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on appeal from the US District Ct. for t he Northern District of California

Date: March 1, 2005

Expert: Narcotics—Drug Trafficking. Police Officer (Government)

Issues: An expert witness cannot make the inference or conclude that a defendant held the required mental state of a crime.

Summary of case: Officers raided the defendant’s residence and found narcotics and multiple firearms.

Role of the expert: The government’s expert testified that the possessed drugs were more likely for sale than for personal use.

Expert analysis: Defendant alleges the expert witness directly commented upon the defendant’s intent in violation of Federal Rule of Evidence 704(b). In this case, the expert expressly denied having any particular knowledge about the defendant or what his intent may have been in possessing the drug quantities in question. The ultimate decision as to the defendant’s mental state was left up to the jury. The admittance of the expert’s testimony was affirmed.

Summary prepared by J. Price, Student, University California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)