United States Court of Appeals
Where the defendant charged with distributing drugs did not put his intent at issue, it was error to admit evidence of prior drug convictions.
“Hicks did not put his intent at issue during the government’s case-in-chief — he waived his opening statement and his strategy during the first half of the trial was to undermine the agents’ testimony by questioning their ability to tell who gave Hurd the drugs.
“This case is virtually indistinguishable from United States v. Manganellis. 864 F.2d at 529-31. In that case, the defendant was charged with distributing cocaine to an undercover agent and to a friend. Id. The defendant denied making the sales and claimed he was mistakenly identified by the agent and that the friend was lying. Id.
“We found that the defendant’s claim that he did not commit the alleged acts did not suffice to put his intent at issue and that, as a result, evidence of his prior bad acts involving the sale of drugs on other occasions should not have been admitted into evidence. Id. at 539. As in Manganellis, finding that Hicks put his intent at issue by merely claiming innocence would ‘create an exception that would virtually swallow the rule against admission of evidence of prior misconduct’ in general intent cases. See id. at 532-33; Shackleford, 738 F.2d at 781 (finding that defendant charged with general intent crime did not place his intent at issue by maintaining throughout trial that he never committed the acts alleged).”
Vacated and Remanded.
09-3608 U.S. v. Hicks
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Lawrence, J., Williams, J.