Expert Article Library

Mexican Transborder Culture Expert?

Case Name: United States v. Bahena-Cardenas (Click here for the full text of the case)

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

Date: June 13, 2005

Expert: Sociology. Unidentified sociology professor

Issues: Whether the district court erred in convicting appellant, who claimed he was a U.S. citizen, of entering the United States without permission.

Summary of case: Appellant was convicted by a jury of entering the United States without permission of the Attorney General after being excluded, deported, or removed from the United States in violation of 8 U.S.C.S. § 1326.

Role of the expert: The professor, who was a defense witness, claimed to be an expert in Mexican transborder culture. She testified outside of the presence of the jury about a small-scale study she performed in which a small percentage of study respondents in Tijuana reported lying to Mexican officials in order to get a Mexican birth certificate.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The district court refused to allow the testimony, reasoning that the study was too small and did not involve practices in the state that issued Bahena-Cardenas' birth certificate. The court also reasoned that only impermissible stereotypes would allow the jury to generalize from the expert's study to the particular facts in this case. The appellate court granted a limited remand because defendant did not challenge his sentence on Sixth Amendment grounds in the district court and affirmed the district court's judgment as to the remaining issues.

Summary prepared by W. McLennan, Student, U.C. Hastings College of the Law