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United States v. Ramos-Morales

United States District Court, Northern District of Iowa, Eastern Division

March 11, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ELVIRA RAMOS-MORALES, Defendant.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is the government’s “Motion for Preliminary Ruling Regarding Admissibility of Rule 404(b) Evidence” (“Motion”) (docket no. 15).

II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On January 14, 2015, a grand jury returned a three-count Indictment (docket. no. 2) against Defendant. Count 1 of the Indictment charges Defendant with knowingly using a document prescribed by statute or regulation as evidence of authorized stay or employment in the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a). Count 2 of the Indictment charges Defendant with falsely and willfully representing herself to be a citizen of the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 911. Count 3 of the Indictment charges Defendant with knowingly transferring, possessing and using without lawful authority a means of identification that Defendant knew belonged to another person in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1). On March 4, 2015, relying on Federal Rule of Evidence 104, the government filed the Motion.[1] On March 9, 2015, Defendant filed the Resistance (docket no. 19). On March 9, 2015, the court held a hearing on the Motion. See March 9, 2015, Minute Entry (docket no. 21).

III. ANALYSIS

In the Motion, the government seeks a preliminary “ruling regarding the admissibility of evidence of [D]efendant’s prior conviction for Fraudulent Practice in the 3rd degree, ” which is an aggravated misdemeanor in Iowa.[2] Motion at 2 (formatting omitted). In the Resistance, Defendant argues that the court should “overrule the [g]overnment’s proposed admission of the prior criminal conviction.” Resistance at 1.

A. Applicable Law

Under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), “[e]vidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(1). However, “[t]his evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(2). Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) is one of inclusion, “such that evidence offered for permissible purposes is presumed admissible absent a contrary determination.” United States v. Johnson, 439 F.3d 947, 952 (8th Cir. 2006). This evidence is admissible if “(1) it is relevant to a material issue; (2) it is similar in kind and not overly remote in time to the crime charged; (3) it is supported by sufficient evidence; and (4) its potential prejudice does not substantially outweigh its probative value.” United States v. Bassett, 762 F.3d 681, 687 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting United States v. Cockerham, 417 F.3d 919, 921 (8th Cir. 2005)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

B. Application

The government argues that “[e]ach of the four factors for admissibility is met.” Motion at 3. Defendant counters that the evidence of Defendant’s “prior conviction does not satisfy all four elements to be admissible under 404(b).” Brief in Support of Resistance (docket no. 19-1) at 2. The court will examine each factor in turn.

1. Relevance

The government argues that “the use of another person’s identity is relevant to the material issues of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.” Motion at 3. Specifically, the government argues that “[b]y pleading not guilty to the three charged offenses, [D]efendant placed her knowing and intentional use of another actual person’s means of identification at issue.” Id. Defendant counters that the “[g]overnment is offering this [evidence] as mere propensity evidence, ” meaning that “if she used fake documents to work in the past, she must be knowingly doing so again.” Brief in Support of Resistance at 2.

The court finds that evidence of Defendant’s prior conviction for fraudulent practices is relevant to material issues in this case. The crimes charged in this case include elements of knowledge and intent, and a “defendant places [her] state of mind in issue by a general denial defense.” United States v. Lindsey, 702 F.3d 1092, 1099 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting Untied States v. Anthony, 537 F.3d 863, 866 (8th Cir. 2008)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also United States v. Clark, 668 F.3d 568, 574-75 (8th Cir. 2012) (holding that “Rule 404(b) evidence in this case was ...


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