Sunday, January 31, 2010

Private Eyes Are Watching You: Sixth Circuit Finds Sequestration Of Defense Private Investigator Proper Under Rule 615

"You are a trial judge and have decided to order witnesses excluded. Defense counsel argues that the order should not apply to the defense's private investigator because the investigator interviewed several government witnesses and could provide immediate insight to their cross-examinations if allowed to remain in the courtroom. How should you rule under Federal Rule of Evidence 615(3)? That was the answer facing the Sixth Circuit in its recent opinion in United States v. McClendon, 2010 WL 272878 (6th Cir. 2010).

The facts in McClendon were as listed above, with Brian McClendon on trial for offenses related to his role in the robbery of an armored car guard at a Wal-Mart store and a subsequent drug conspiracy funded by the fruits of that robbery. After defense counsel asked that the private investigator be allowed to remain in the courtroom, the District Court denied this request, instead choosing to provide McClendon's counsel with frequent breaks to discuss the case with the investigator and allow the investigator to obtain transcripts from the other witnesses."

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