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Seizure-Reasonable Suspicion-Jury Instructions


Seizure-Reasonable Suspicion-Jury Instructions


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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Roland Black

Case No.: 22-2659

Officials: Easterbrook, Brennan, and Kirsch, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Seizure-Reasonable Suspicion-Jury Instructions

Law enforcement officers intercepted a package mailed from Atlanta to a Chicago residence because they believed it contained narcotics. Pursuant to a warrant, officers then searched the package and found a substance containing furanyl fentanyl. They switched the fentanyl with sham narcotics covered in a fluorescent powder, wired the package to signal to them when it was opened, and sent an undercover officer to deliver the package to the Chicago residence. A woman claiming to be the intended recipient took the package, and Roland Black arrived shortly there-after. Once the officers received a signal that the package had been opened, they approached the front door. The package was then thrown out of the back of the building, and Black fled to the top floor, where he was arrested and found with the luminescent powder from the sham narcotics on his hands.

A jury found Black guilty of attempting to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Black appealed, raising four arguments: (1) the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to seize the package, and the district court should have held an evidentiary hearing to resolve related factual disputes; (2) the jury instruction about his requisite mens rea was erroneous; (3) the jury’s verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence; and, solely for preservation purposes, (4) the court erred in denying his motion to dismiss based on the court’s treatment of furanyl fentanyl as an analogue of fentanyl. Because the court finds that officers had reasonable suspicion to seize the package (and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing), the challenged jury instruction accurately stated the law, the jury’s verdict is supported by more than sufficient evidence, and, as Black acknowledges, his motion to dismiss argument is foreclosed by our precedent, we affirm.


Decided 06/20/24

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