United States v. Tavera

Mendoza drove a truck from North Carolina to Tennessee with Tavera as a passenger. The truck contained construction equipment. A large quantity of methamphetamine was hidden under nails. The truck was stopped after being followed as part of a sting operation. At trial, Tavera, a roofer, testified that he did not know about the drugs and that he thought he was going to Tennessee to view a construction project. Tavera was convicted of participating in a methamphetamine drug conspiracy and sentenced to 186 months of imprisonment. He subsequently learned that days before the trial Mendoza had participated in plea negotiations in which he told Taylor, the prosecution’s trial lawyer, that Tavera had no knowledge of the drug conspiracy. Mendoza later pled guilty and changed his story. Tavera filed an appeal and a year later moved for a new trial in the district court. The district court has not ruled on the motion. The Sixth Circuit vacated the conviction, based on the “Brady” violation, calling the case “not close,” and recommended that the U.S. Attorney’s office conduct an investigation of why the prosecutorial error occurred. View "United States v. Tavera" on Justia Law