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Government rebuked for excluding witness in Latin Kings trial

Jay-NPRFrom Triad City Beat

A federal appellate judge finds fault with the government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness in the trial of former Latin King leader Jorge Cornell, but a panel of judges is less sympathetic to arguments about the role of interstate commerce and instructions for the jury to continue deliberating.

A federal appellate judge for the Fourth Circuit sharply criticized the federal government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness from the 2012 trial of former North Carolina Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell.

Judge Robert B. King, who was appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton, bristled when US Attorney Sonja Ralston argued that the court’s opinion in the 1999 case United States v. Rhynes on the matter of witness exclusion was “fractured.”

Ralston’s characterization slighted a ruling on witness exclusion handed down by the very court hearing the appeal of Cornell’s criminal racketeering conviction.

“It was eight to two,” riposted King, who wrote the opinion in the 1999 case. “That’s not very fractured.” (more…)