Conspiracy Liability Statute
CA9: laying down the law on “conspiracy” liability
California Appellate Report points to US v. Garcia. In footnote one, the 9th says that the AUSA mislead the District Court. Why did he do it? Why the District Court fall for the trick. Whatever the case, it causes the 9th to lay out some principles of conspiracy liability, which I reproduce below:
We are troubled that it appears the prosecutor brought charges against Garcia on Counts IV through VI — and the district court allowed those charges to go to the jury — based on the prosecutor’s misstatement at trial about the extent of conspirator liability. On appeal, the government conceded that the prosecutor “persuaded the judge of an incorrect proposition of law,” specifically that “under the general law of conspiracy, if you join an ongoing conspiracy, you’re responsible for everything that went on before it.” This proposition is correct only in the context of establishing vicarious liability for acts establishing the crime of conspiracy itself rather than vicarious liability for other substantive offenses committed in the course of a conspiracy. [A bunch of citations to cases and treatises] It is thus unclear whether Garcia would have been charged with Counts IV through VI if the prosecutor had not misunderstood conspiracy liability, but in any event, we conclude that the government did not present sufficient evidence that Garcia had joined the conspiracy in July 2003, and we reverse Garcia’s conviction on that basis.
The government conceded the issue, by the way.