Nick Alcock Criminal Attorney Blog: More Cases that Make Life Harder for Criminal Defendants

More cases that make life harder on criminal defendants: Criminal Attorney Blog
By: Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Nick Alcock
The “Pinkerton Liability” rule originated from a case in the 40s. In short, and oversimplifying it, it makes a person guilty of all the crimes of a group of conspirators. So a person who supplies a gun and a ski mask to a person who robs a bank is guilty of bank robbery. See, below, Wikipedia’s treatment of Pinkerton.
“Similar to the rule of aiding and abetting, the overt acts of one partner in a conspiracy is attributable to all partners. The court concluded that if an overt act, which is an essential ingredient to a conspiracy, can be supplied by one conspirator, then likewise the same or other acts in furtherance of the conspiracy should be attributable to the others for the purpose of holding them responsible for the substantive offense(s).”
In United States v. Bingham, a ruling out of the 9th Circuit a week ago, the Court decided to scale up Pinkerton Liability and extend it to leaders in prison gangs. Thus, a person in a position of leadership in a gang is responsible for the criminal acts of other members of the gang. Criminal defense attorneys are going to have a tough time getting acquittals where their clients are leaders and organizers of gangs. That’s now affirmed law. See a synopsis of the decision below.
“(9) United States v. Bingham
Decided: 8/4/2011
Nos. 06-50668; 06-50669
Circuit Judge Rymer for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and Ikuta

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: A defendant’s leadership involvement in prison gang operations to promote and orchestrate acts of murder, racketeering and conspiracy, is sufficient for supporting convictions of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ACT (“RICO”) and for committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering (“VICAR”).

Tyler Davis Bingham and Edgar Hevle, members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang (“AB”), were found guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) ACT and the violent crimes in aid of racketeering (“VICAR”) for the murder of three other inmates belonging to the AB and a rival prison gang. Bingham and Hevle both hold leadership positions within the AB, whose main purpose is to orchestrate criminal activities such as drug trafficking and to protect incarcerated members and the AB organization by any means necessary, including killing the gang’s enemies and members who step out of line. Bingham and Helve appealed their convictions, stating insufficient evidence and due process violations. To support these claims, Bingham points to a restructuring of the AB’s leadership organization, the knowing use of false testimony by the prosecution, and statements made by Bingham meant as a warning being misinterpreted as evidence of an order to kill. The Ninth Circuit held that a restructuring of the AB’s leadership was immaterial to Bingham’s racketeering and conspiracy convictions as the gang’s main objective and goals did not change, that there was no evidence to support a perjured testimony theory and that a reasonable jury could interpret Bingham’s statements as an order to kill. Hevle also contended that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions, but the Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict him of murder, racketeering and conspiracy under the Pinkerton theory of liability. AFFIRMED.”

Nick Alcock is a Phoenix criminal defense attorney and owner of the criminal defense law firm Alcock & Associates, P.C.

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