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Second Circuit — Reasonable Doubt: United States of America v. Clark

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Reasonable Doubt

Possession of a Controlled Substance

United States of America v. Clark
12-221-cr
Judges Newman, Winter and Droney

Background: The defendant appealed from his conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. The defendant was arrested and placed in the back seat of a squad car with his hands cuffed behind him. After he was removed from the officer’s vehicle, the officer lifted the seat and found a bag of crack cocaine.

Ruling: The Second Circuit affirmed the conviction of being in possession of a firearm, but reversed the possession of a controlled substance count. The court held that there was sufficient reasonable doubt to acquit the defendant of the controlled substance count. There were three possibilities for the presence of the crack: the defendant may have placed it there, someone else placed it there, or it was deliberately placed there after he was removed from the officer’s vehicle. It is very unlikely that, while handcuffed and after a pat down, he was carrying the crack cocaine and placed it behind the seat.

Stephan J. Baczynski of the United States Attorney’s Office for the appellee; Nicholas J. Pinto for the defendant-appellant