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Law School Case Brief

United States v. Noriega - 117 F.3d 1206 (11th Cir. 1997)

Rule:

A criminal defendant, abducted to the United States from a nation with which it has an extradition treaty, does not thereby acquire a defense to the jurisdiction of the United State's courts. He may be tried in federal district court for violations of the criminal law of the United States. 

Facts:

Manuel Antonio Noriega appealed his multiple convictions stemming from his involvement in cocaine trafficking; and the district court's denial of his motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. In attacking his convictions, Noriega asserted that the district court should have dismissed the indictment against him due to his status as a head of state and the manner in which the United States brought him to justice. Noriega also contended that the district court committed two reversible evidentiary errors. Alternatively, he sought new trial based on his discovery of: (1) the government's suppression of its pact with a non-witness; and/or (2) certain allegations, lodged after his conviction, that a group associated with the undisclosed, cooperating non-witness bribed a prosecution witness. 

Issue:

Should the indictment be dismissed due to the defendant’s status as a head of state?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed. The court rejected defendant's contention that the indictment should have been dismissed due to his status as a head of state and the manner in which the United States brought him to justice, because he was denied head-of-state immunity. The court also rejected defendant's alternative contentions that he was entitled to a new trial based on his discovery of the government's suppression of its pact with a non-witness, and certain allegations, lodged after his conviction, that a group associated with the undisclosed, cooperating non-witness bribed a prosecution witness.

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