United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART UNITED
STATES' MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF
DEFENDANT'S STATE OF MIND
MATTER is before the Court on the United States' Motion
in Limine to Exclude Evidence of State of Mind, filed on
September 11, 2018 (Doc. 32). Having
reviewed the United States' motion and the applicable
law, the Court finds that the Motion is well-taken and is,
therefore, GRANTED IN PART. If Defendant
wishes to present evidence at trial as to any affirmative
defense, defense counsel must present an offer of proof at
the pretrial conference on September 24,
is charged with possession with the intent to distribute 50
grams or more of methamphetamine, pursuant to 21 USC §
841(a)(1) and § (b)(1)(A). Doc. 35. A
pretrial conference is set for September 24,
2018. In this motion the Government seeks to exclude
certain state of mind evidence, and to exclude reference to
any duress or necessity defense unless Defendant makes a
sufficient proffer. Doc. 32.
Irrelevant “State of Mind” Evidence is
Government seeks to exclude evidence of certain reasons
why Defendant trafficked narcotics, such as loss of
job, financial or economic reasons, or the need to support
his family, as these reasons are irrelevant and prejudicial.
The Government does not seek to exclude any evidence that
tends to go to the element of intent, or categorically
exclude evidence of duress or necessity. Defendant argues
that exclusion of this evidence violates his right to a fair
trial under the Sixth Amendment.
the right to present a defense is not without limits. The
defendant's presentation of evidence is constrained by
the twin prongs of relevancy and materiality. Simply stated,
a criminal defendant does not have a constitutional right to
present evidence that is not relevant and not material to his
defense.” United States v. Solomon, 399 F.3d
1231, 1239 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal citations and quotation
marks omitted). “Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has
any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it
would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of
consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid.
401. Irrelevant evidence is inadmissible. Fed.R.Evid. 402.
Defendant does not explain how this evidence would make any
fact pertaining to any element or defense more or less
possession with intent to distribute under 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1), the Government must prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that “(1) the defendant knowingly possessed the
illegal drug; and (2) the defendant possessed the drug with
the specific intent to distribute it.” United
States v. Carter, 130 F.3d 1432, 1440 (10th Cir.1997). A
large quantity of drugs may be sufficient evidence to infer
the intent to distribute. United States v. Triana,
477 F.3d 1189, 1195 (10th Cir. 2007), citing United
States v. Pulido-Jacobo, 377 F.3d 1124, 1131 (10th Cir.
2004) (“a jury may infer intent to distribute from the
possession of large quantities of drugs.”).
the Government only seeks to exclude reasons why he
trafficked drugs - not evidence bearing on whether he
actually had the intent to traffic or whether he did so under
duress or necessity. The Court concludes that such evidence
is irrelevant, and therefore should be excluded under
Fed.R.Evid. 402. Moreover, such evidence is likely to be so
unfairly prejudicial as to outweigh any probative value.
Offer of Proof as to Affirmative Defenses.
Government argues that Defendant must give an offer of proof
prior to presenting any affirmative defense such as necessity
or duress to the jury. The Court agrees.
to trial, Defendant bears the burden of proffering testimony
that meets a “minimum standard as to each element so
that, if a jury finds it to be true, it would support an
affirmative defense - here that of duress or
necessity.” United States v. Bailey, 444 U.S.
394, 398 (1980), quoted in United States v.
Portillo-Vega, 478 F.3d 1194, 1201 (10th Cir. 2007)
(affirming district court that rejected duress defense where
the proffer failed to establish elements by a preponderance
of the evidence); cf United States v. Al-Rekabi, 454
F.3d 1113, 1122-23 (10th Cir. 2006) (“To qualify for an
instruction on an affirmative defense such as necessity a
defendant must produce evidence of each element sufficient to
warrant its consideration by the jury.”).
necessity or duress defense may be used to excuse an
otherwise illegal act. United States v.
Saldivar-Munoz, 439 Fed.Appx. 730, 735 (10th Cir. 2011).
To prove a duress defense, Defendant must establish that
“(1) an immediate threat of death or serious bodily
injury, (2) a well-grounded fear that the threat will be
carried out, and (3) no reasonable opportunity to escape the
threatened harm.” United States v.
Portillo-Vega, 478 F.3d 1194, 1197 (10th Cir. 2007).
Similarly, to prove a necessity defense, Defendant must prove
that “(1) there is no legal alternative to violating
the law, (2) the harm to be prevented is imminent, and (3) a
direct, causal relationship is reasonably anticipated to
exist between defendant's action and the avoidance of
harm.” Saldivar-Munoz, 439 Fed.Appx. at 734-35
(citation omitted). Defendant must prove these defenses by a
preponderance of the evidence, and the Government is not
required to disprove them. United States v.
Al-Rekabi, 454 F.3d 1113, 1122-23 (10th Cir. 2006).
defendant is precluded from presenting an affirmative defense
that lacks any evidentiary support. See U.S. v.
Fraser,647 F.3d 1242, 1245 (10th Cir. 2011) (“No
one, after all, has a right under the Constitution or at
common law to present evidence that is ...