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United States v. Afyare

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

March 2, 2016, Filed

File Name: 16a0122n.06

No. 13-5924

Opinion

 [*273]  ALICE M. BATCHELDER, Circuit Judge. This is one of two companion opinions from this panel in separate appeals from a much [**3]  larger criminal prosecution. In this appeal, the government challenges three in limine rulings, arguing that the district court misinterpreted 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) and Federal Rule of Evidence 701(c) to improperly exclude certain evidence. Specifically, the government challenges the court's rulings on whether § 1591 applies only to sex trafficking of children; the meaning of "venture" as used in § 1591(a)(2); and whether teachers and police officers are experts when testifying about their perception of a person's age.

We have already criticized the prosecution of this case thus far, see United States v. Fahra, No. 13-5122, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4174, and need not repeat those concerns. But we note that the prosecution's actions in the first trial certainly affected the district court's rulings, which underlie the succeeding decisions the government challenges here. Consequently, while this is an appeal of certain in limine decisions, in anticipation of the next trial, we cannot escape the genesis of those decisions, and the surrounding circumstances, which stem from the past trial.

For the reasons that follow, we REVERSE in part and AFFIRM in part the district court's interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) and Federal Rule of Evidence 701(c), and its resulting determinations regarding the admissibility of evidence and jury instruction. [**4] 

I. Background

The federal prosecutor obtained a grand jury indictment charging each of 30 defendants with one or more of 20 different federal offenses, primarily relating to the alleged operation of a large-scale sex trafficking ring, spanning nine cities in four states over ten years, from January 2000 until July 2010. After months of pre-trial litigation (almost 2,000 docket entries), including myriad motions and rulings and [*274]  severance of many defendants, the parties selected a jury in March 2012 for the trial of the first nine defendants on four charges:

Count 1: Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of victims under the age of 18 (or under the age of 14), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1).

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632 Fed. Appx. 272 *; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4173 **; 99 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 1126; 2016 FED App. 0122N (6th Cir.)

UNITED STATES of AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ABDULLAHI SADE AFYARE, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Notice: NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION. SIXTH CIRCUIT RULE 28 LIMITS CITATION TO SPECIFIC SITUATIONS. PLEASE SEE RULE 28 BEFORE CITING IN A PROCEEDING IN A COURT IN THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. IF CITED, A COPY MUST BE SERVED ON OTHER PARTIES AND THE COURT. THIS NOTICE IS TO BE PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED IF THIS DECISION IS REPRODUCED.

Subsequent History: Related proceeding at, Decision reached on appeal by United States v. Fahra, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4174 (6th Cir.), 2016 FED App. 121N (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Tenn., 2016)

Prior History:  [**1] ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE.

United States v. Afyare, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86587 (M.D. Tenn., June 12, 2013)

CORE TERMS

trafficking, venture, sex, coercion, district court, witnesses, teachers, adult, special knowledge, police officer, gang, cases, criminalizes, lay witness, sex act, traffic, conspiracy, membership, older, sex-trafficking, grade, expert testimony, first trial, testifying, knowingly, proffered, questions, attained, charges, reasons

Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Conclusions of Law, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Criminal Offenses, Crimes Against Persons, Sex Crimes, Sentencing, Ranges, Trials, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution, Types of Statutes, Evidence, Relevance, Relevant Evidence, Testimony, Lay Witnesses, Opinion Testimony, Abuse of Discretion, Witnesses, Expert Witnesses, Qualifications, Types of Evidence, Lay Witnesses, Expert Witnesses, Credibility of Witnesses, Rehabilitation, Opinion Testimony, Helpfulness