969 F.3d 819 (7th Cir. 2020), 19-1909, United States v. Medina

Docket Nº:19-1909
Citation:969 F.3d 819
Opinion Judge:Bauer, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Orlando MEDINA, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Jonathan H. Koenig, Attorney, Rebecca Taibleson, Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Milwaukee, WI, for Plaintiff-Appellee. John A. Birdsall, Attorney, Birdsall Obear & Associates SC, Milwaukee, WI, for Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:Before Bauer, Kanne, and Barrett, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 13, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 819

969 F.3d 819 (7th Cir. 2020)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Orlando MEDINA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 19-1909

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 13, 2020

Argued February 12, 2020.

Page 820

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 2:15-cr-00016-PP-1 - Pamela Pepper, Chief Judge.

Jonathan H. Koenig, Attorney, Rebecca Taibleson, Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Milwaukee, WI, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

John A. Birdsall, Attorney, Birdsall Obear & Associates SC, Milwaukee, WI, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before Bauer, Kanne, and Barrett, Circuit Judges.

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

Orlando Medina was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. At a bench trial, key evidence included the testimony of police officers from Puerto Rico, four mail receipts, and the testimony of co-conspirator Rodolfo Duenas. Medina argues his conviction must be reversed because the judge should have found this evidence lacked credibility as a matter of law. He also argues this evidence constituted false testimony and violated his due process rights. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 19, 2014, Puerto Rico police received a tip that Medina was transporting firearms. When officers attempted to stop Medina's car, he fired gunshots and fled. Police then seized Medina's abandoned car. Upon searching the car, police found Medina's birth certificate and four mail receipts. Three receipts were for packages sent to Puerto Rico by Duenas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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The United States Postal Inspection Service identified suspicious packages sent from Puerto Rico to Duenas. Milwaukee-based police officers intercepted and followed a package containing cocaine and arrested Duenas once he accepted delivery. Duenas mentioned the shooting incident and stated that Medina had repeatedly shipped him cocaine from Puerto Rico.

Forensic scientists determined that the powdery substance in the intercepted package contained cocaine and that the forty small bags amounted to more than one kilogram. A print analyst found that three of the seven fingerprints inside the package matched Medina's fingerprints.

Medina was indicted with one count of conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. He received a bench trial, which took place in early 2018. The government's witnesses included three officers from Puerto Rico, two Milwaukee-based police officers, and Duenas. The government also offered expert testimony identifying Medina's fingerprints. The defense moved for a judgment of acquittal after the government's case, but the court denied the motion. The parties proceeded to closing arguments.

The court found Medina guilty. The defense suggested that the fourth mail receipt — labeled as being sent from Milwaukee on August 19, 2014 at 3:25pm— could not have been in Medina's car. The judge said the receipt raised a "mystery" but dismissed the idea that it created a reasonable doubt as to the Puerto Rico officers' testimony or the receipts bearing Duenas' name. The judge stated that Duenas had a "tenuous relationship with the truth" but nevertheless,...

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