Two judges in New Jersey
overturned the conviction of a woman found guilty of possession of
cocaine with intent to distribute. They ruled that prosecutors
should not have relied on “expert” opinion from one of the cops
involved, who claimed the amount of cocaine found in the woman’s
home (1.2 ounces) was enough to assume the intent to sell and
distribute, because prosecutors are prohibited from doing so.
Via the Star Ledger:
The appeals judges said the investigator’s testimony at
[Deberel] Rogers’ trial “was improper,” adding that the state
Supreme Court “considered and disapproved of the practice of
eliciting opinion testimony from an officer involved in the
investigation that led to a defendant’s prosecution for drug
The judges acknowledged that Rogers’ attorney did not object to the
line of questioning and testimony by the investigator. They also
said the prosecutor may not have known about the limitations on
expert testimony involving investigating officers in drug cases,
but that the judge should have excluded the remarks.
There was “significant evidence” to support Rogers’ conviction of
cocaine possession, but the distribution charge could have involved
others in the apartment and the opinion testimony could have
prejudiced the jury, the appellate decision said.
The judges upheld Rogers conviction for possession of cocaine and
remanded the case back to New Brunswick for a new
The artificial distinction between a quantity of narcotics that
would qualify for personal use and a quantity that qualifies for
“distribution” is at the crux of the Obama Administration’s snail’s
pace effort at drug sentencing reform; the Department of Justice
instructed prosecutors to omit the quantity of narcotics
involved in “low-level” drug cases to avoid the harsh mandatory
minimums that kick in at arbitrary amounts.
More Reason on drug sentencing.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/26/nj-appellate-court-overturns-felony-drug