Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Briggs

May 29, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LAMILTON BRIGGS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 00-CR-10099--Michael M. Mihm, Judge.

Before Ripple, Kanne, and Evans, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kanne, Circuit Judge

Argued April 4, 2002

A jury convicted appellant Lamilton Briggs of distributing crack cocaine, based on a controlled drug purchase. Because Briggs possessed a large amount of crack at the time of his arrest, he was also convicted of possession of crack with the intent to distribute. He appeals, arguing (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions, (2) the district court erred in denying his motion for a new trial based on a juror's post-trial questionnaire, and (3) his conviction violates the rule set forth in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S. Ct. 2348, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2000). We affirm.

I. History

At trial, the following facts were adduced: Orlando Davis, a confidential FBI informant, met with FBI Task Force Agent Jeff Avery at the Peoria, Illinois FBI office in order to arrange a controlled purchase of crack from Briggs. After Davis arrived at the FBI office, he was searched for money and for drugs, and finding neither, law enforcement agents outfitted Davis with a body-recording device and a transmitter. Davis then paged Briggs, who returned the page, acknowledging himself as "Milton" in a recorded phone call. During that call, Davis and Briggs agreed to meet at a pre arranged location, and Agent Avery provided Davis with $2,000 in cash.

Following the phone call with Briggs, Davis and Agent Avery drove in Davis' car to meet Briggs at the Pierson Hills housing complex in Peoria. After arriving at the complex, Agent Avery left Davis' car and joined other law enforcement agents in establishing visual surveillance of the complex. Davis then drove into the complex, located Briggs' car, and joined Briggs inside of that car. While in the car, Davis provided Briggs with $2,000 in cash in exchange for 54.7 grams of crack.*fn1 Following this transaction, Davis met with Agent Avery and provided him with the crack that he had obtained from Briggs.

Law enforcement agents obtained a warrant for Briggs' arrest based on the transaction with Davis and conducted surveillance at the Seven Oaks apartment complex in Peoria where agents knew Briggs to reside. After approximately two weeks of surveillance, law enforcement agents went to Seven Oaks Apartment 1001 to arrest Briggs. The law enforcement agents knocked several times and announced their identity and presence, and stated that they had a warrant for Briggs' arrest. They received no response, although one agent observed movement inside of the apartment. After continuing to announce their presence and after again receiving no response, agents forcibly entered the apartment. Once inside the apartment, the agents saw a person identified as Harold Washington sitting on the couch in the living room. Eventually, Briggs appeared from the back room of the apartment and was placed under arrest.

Following Briggs' arrest, a law enforcement agent conducted a protective sweep of the apartment and discovered a large amount of money and cocaine. Two agents testified that Briggs confessed that the drugs in the apartment belonged to him and that Washington had nothing to do with those items. Based on the drugs seen in plain view during the protective sweep, law enforcement agents obtained and lawfully executed a search warrant for the apartment. During that search, agents seized numerous plastic bags containing, in total, 161 grams of crack cocaine, an additional 175.6 grams of powder cocaine, two digital scales, a cutting tray, several cell phones and pagers, and approximately $6,350 in cash.

Additionally, Jennifer Jones, a marketing representative for Seven Oaks, testified that Apartment 1001 was rented to a person identified as "James Pierson." On several occasions, "Pierson" came to the apartment complex office and paid his monthly rent with money orders. Jones identified Briggs as the person she believed to be "Pierson."

In his defense, Briggs attempted to challenge the credibility of the government's witnesses as well as to show that the drugs in the apartment did not belong to him. For example, the two agents that testified that Briggs hadconfessed to the possession of the drugs admitted on cross-examination that they had failed to include Briggs' admission in their police report. Briggs' mother testified that during the time in question, he lived with and took care of her because she had been injured at work. Finally, Davis admitted writing a letter to Briggs' girlfriend, offering not to testify in exchange for $7,500.

The jury then convicted Briggs of one count of distribution of fifty or more grams of crack, in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec. 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A), and one count of possession of fifty or more grams of crack with the intent to distribute it in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec. 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(1). After the jury convicted Briggs of both counts but prior to sentencing, the district court received an exit questionnaire from one of the jurors. In that questionnaire, the juror described the deliberative process and the role she played in that process. Although the juror had stated that she had been "intimidated" by other jurors into finding Briggs guilty, the juror did not suggest that any extraneous information or outside influence had been brought to the jury's attention. Based on the juror's questionnaire, Briggs filed a motion for a hearing to determine the validity of the jury's verdict.

Before the district court, Briggs' counsel acknowledged that the juror's statements fell within the purview ofFederal Rule of Evidence 606(b), and were thus inadmissible.*fn2 Further, neither exception to Rule 606(b)--extraneous information nor outside influence--applied that would allow the questionnaire to be admitted into evidence. Initially, the district court agreed that the juror's statements did not raise any issue as to whether any extraneous information or outside influence had been brought to the jury's attention. Relying on this court's decision in United States v. Ford, 840 F.2d 460, 465-66 (7th Cir. 1988), the district court then denied Briggs' motion. After the district court had ruled on the motion and at the suggestion of the government, the district court allowed Briggs to contact the juror to inquire into the statements the juror had made in her questionnaire because the court was concerned that "intimidation" could mean physical intimidation of some sort.

Briggs' counsel contacted the juror and conducted a recorded interview of her. During that interview, the juror made clear that there was no physical intimidation of any sort. Further, the juror explained that neither extraneous information nor outside influence had been brought to the jury's attention and that she was merely unhappy with the deliberative process. At sentencing, the district court again considered Briggs' motion for a hearing to determine the validity of the jury's verdict. After reviewing the transcript of the interview with the juror, the district court reaffirmed his denial of the motion for a hearing and the motion ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.