Expert Article Library

Expert Testimony on Drug Trafficking Found Helpful, Admissible

Case Name: United States v. Walker (Click here for the full text of the case (UNPUBLISHED))

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit

Date: May 03, 2006

Expert: Special Agent Sean Henry. DEA Agent

Issues: Is information regarding the operation of drug dealers useful for the juries understanding of the case or is such testimony prejudicial and inadmissible?

Summary of case: Defendant Walker was charged with conspiracy to possess LSD with intent to sell. Walker was indicted after an undercover operation led to the arrest of an accomplice of Walker’s who cooperated and testified that walker sold him the LSD he sold to undercover officers.

Role of the expert: Special Agent Henry testified to some of the means that drug traffickers use to avoid detection. He also testified that Walker’s activities were above that of a common drug dealer and were indicative of person orchestrating a nationwide drug ring.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: Walker claimed that Special Agent Henry’s expert opinion testimony on the habits of drug dealers was prejudicial and inadmissible. Walker claims that Special Agent Henry’s testimony is something the average juror would know and was therefore its admittance was prejudicial The 10th Circuit rejected Walker’s argument and ruled the district court correctly allowed the testimony of Special Agent Henry. The court stated expert testimony by a law enforcement officer is admissible when it clarifies the operation and organization of drug trafficking.

Summary prepared by B. Kass, Student, The University of California Hastings College of the Law