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Law School Case Brief

State v. Lobato - 603 So. 2d 739 (La. 1992)

Rule:

The standard for determining the admissibility of statements made by co-conspirators is less than that required to convict a defendant of conspiracy to commit an offense. Such statements, if admissible, only constitute evidence which the jury may consider in reaching its conclusion as to whether a defendant did or did not unlawfully participate in a conspiracy to commit an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, a trial court's determination as to the admissibility of such evidence, i.e., whether the state has made a prima facie showing of a conspiracy and whether a defendant has sufficiently proven withdrawal so as to make his co-conspirators' statements admissible or inadmissible under La. Code Evid. Ann. art. 801(D)(3)(b), will not be overturned absent clear error.

Facts:

Defendant was convicted and sentenced for conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute. Defendant appealed, arguing that the admissibility of recorded telephone conversations with co-conspirators, the exclusion of evidence offered to show lack of knowledge and participation in the conspiracy, ineffective assistance of counsel by reason of conflict of interest in representing an alleged co-conspirator was reversible error; defendant also appealed his sentence. 

Issue:

Whether the recorded statements of defendant's co-conspirators were admissible.

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

On review, the court held that the recorded statements of defendant's co-conspirators were admissible as defendant failed to show he withdrew from the conspiracy prior to the time of the statements. The court found that defendant was able to present his defense of no knowledge of or participation in the conspiracy through his testimony and other evidence. As to the counsel claim, the court observed that multiple representation did not presumptively result in ineffective assistance and that defendant did not object to this prior to or during his trial. But, the court remanded the case to the trial court for a full evidentiary hearing on the issue. The court finally rejected assertions regarding the excessiveness of the sentence.

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