CA10: Jury instruction that search issue was for the court and not the jury didn’t lessen the govt’s burden of proof

Defendant’s challenge to the investigative techniques in this child rape case led the district court to instruct the jury that the propriety of searches and seizures were questions for the court. The defense objected that the instruction lessened the government’s burden, but it did not. United States v. Jenks, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23033 (10th Cir. Nov. 16, 2017):

But Jenks’ argument exaggerates the nature of the district court’s instruction. The instruction did not “bless[] the actions of law enforcement” or direct the jury to “wholly disregard … inadequacies” in the investigation; it merely informed the jury that the lawfulness of a search is a matter for the court and that the government may choose its investigative techniques. This is an accurate statement of the law. See United States v. Morgan, 855 F.3d 1122, 1125 (10th Cir. 2017) (“The ultimate determination of the reasonableness of a search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment is a question of law ….”). Although Jenks nevertheless contends that the instruction was misleading when considered as a whole, we are not persuaded that the confluence of these independently correct statements of law misled the jury as to “the relevant standards and factual issues in the case.” United States v. Alexander, 817 F.3d 1205, 1210 (10th Cir. 2016). Accordingly, we detect no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to give the investigative-techniques instruction.

This entry was posted in Burden of proof. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.