El Chapo: I'm Not The Boss, I Just Work For Him The Same As Mexican Presidents Do

With Joaqín 'El Chapo' Guzman's trial underway the US "Justice" Department's prosecutors are once again trying to deny the accused any opportunity at a defense. Namely, the USG is trying to keep Guzman's sworn assertions that he is a working stiff, with a boss like any other who was just following orders. He further asserts that the boss recieved the Mexican government's blessing for the business operation through substantial payments to Mexican presidents over an extended period of time.

The Defense's filing to address USG objects to mounting a defense is presented below:

Jnrrnnv Ltcmuex
sutTE 50r
JEFFREY LICHTMAN www jeffreylichtman. com
PH: (212) 5At-tOOt
FX: (2r2) sgt-4999
November 14,2018
Hon. Brian M. Cogan
United States District Judge
Eastern District of New York
225 CadmanPlazaBast
Brooklyn, New York ll2l7
Re: United States v. Guzman Loera, 54 09 CR 466 (BMC)
Dear Judge Cogan:
I am writing on behalf of defendant Joaquin Guzman Loera in response to the
goverrìment's November 13,2018 motion.(Gov. Mot.) to strike defense counsel's partially
delivered opening statement. Specifically, the govemment has alleged that the undersigned has
argued for selective prosecution, made improper arguments, cited hearsay and argued for a
public-authority defense. In doing so, the government has misstated both the standards for what
constitutes a selective prosecution and public authority defense, and seeks to preclude the defense
from making pcrmissiblc commcnts rcgarding what thc cvidcncc in this casc will actually show.
Additionally, striking a party's opening statement is an extreme reaction and a jury instruction
that opening statements are not evidence has been determined to be an adequate curative when
one party was determined to make improper persuasive arguments. United States v. Lewis, 305
F.App'x. 86, 89 (4th Cir. 2008).
I. Selective Prosecution Argument
The government asserts that the defense's opening statements constituted a selective
prosecution defense in that they argued or suggested that the govemment:
(1) was out to get the defendant because of his status as a
"mythical" figure; (2)had chosen to prosecute the defendant rather
than other drug traffickers, specifically, his codefendant Ismael
Zambada Garcia; and (3) had engaged in outrageous conduct
because it was so desperate to prosecute the defendant.
Case 1:09-cr-00466-BMC-RLM Document 446 Filed 11/14/18 Page 1 of 5 PageID #: 5579
]urrnnv LlcrmrteN
Hon. Brian M. Cogan
United States District Judge
November 14,2018
See Gov. Mot., at p. 3. The government then quoted several excepts from defense counsel's
opening statement which they assert support this allegedly impermissible theory. See id., at pp.
3-4. This three-prong analysis misstates what must be shown for a selective prosecution
There is a two-prong showing for arguing for selective prosecution in the Second Circuit.
United States v. Berrios, 501 F.2d 1207, l2ll (2d Cir 1974). The defendant must first allege that
"others similarly situated have not generally been proceeded against because of conduct of the
type forming the basis of the charge against [the defendant], he has been singled out for
prosecution," and then subsequently claim "the government's discriminatory selection of him for
prosecution has been invidious or in bad faith i.e., based upon such impermissible considerations
as race, religion, or the desire to prevent his exercise of constitutional rights." Id. To claim
selective prosecution, the defendant must proffer that the decision about whom to charge with a
crime "demonstrate[d] that the prosecutorial policy had a discriminatory effect and was
motivated by a discriminatory purpose." United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456,457 (1996).
The Second Circuit has noted that "the disuiminatory effect prong requires a showing that
individuals of a different fclassification] were not prosecuted." United States v. Alameh, 341
F.3d 167, 173 (2d Cir. 2003) quoting Armstrong, 517 U.S. at 465 (intemal quotation marks
omitted). Further, a claim of selective prosecution must be based on some argued violation of
the Equal Protection Clause, resulting in disparate prosecution. See Melissa Jampol, Goodbye to
the Defense of Selective Prosecution, ST J. Crim L. & Crimonl olgy 932,933 (1996-1997).
Here, the defense simply never claimed that the defendant is being prosecuted because of
his status in any constitutionally protected class or to deprive him of his constitutional rights
(Berrios, 501 F.2d at l2I1), or that he is in a different classification than Ismael "Mayo"
Zambada Garcia which is causing only him to be charged. Alameh, 341 F.3d at 173. Rather than
argue that the government brought charges against the defendant with discriminatory intent, the
defense argued that the evidence in this case will show that Mr. Guzman has been "scapegoated,"
and that there will be cooperator testimony that Mayo Zambada is actually the individual who is
in charge of narco-trafficking operations for this cartel. Tr. at 55:19-22; Tr. at 57 2-5;Tr. at 57:
14-17 . As noted in the exchange after the jury departed, the defense opening statement did not
claim or even insinuate that Mr. Guzman was in fact trafficking drugs, and that other people were
not being prosecuted for the same conduct because of some altemative classification. Tr. atTl:6-
' At no point in the government's motion do they cite a single instance where the defense
indicated that Mr. Guzman was trafficking narcotics, nor was there any reference to the claims
that the DEA permitted Mr. Guzman to engage in such behavior, contrary to what was alleged by
the government. See generally Gov. Mot.; see also Tr. atTl:12-14.
Case 1:09-cr-00466-BMC-RLM Document 446 Filed 11/14/18 Page 2 of 5 PageID #: 5580
Hon. Brian M. Cogan
United States District Judge
November 14,2018
page 3
Simply put, claiming that the evidence will demonstrate that another individual is actually
the guilty party and that the defendant is being framed is not a selective prosecution argument,
and even if, aguendo, defense counsel had made the three assertions indicated by the government
in their motion, it would still not constitute a selective prosecution theory as the government
utterly failed to mention or reference any claim that the reason the defendant is being prosecuted
is discriminatory or violates the Equal Protection Clause. Armstrong, 517 U.S. at 457.
II. Public Authoritv Defense
The govemment alleges that defense counsel's opening statement impermissibly raised a
public authority defense without providing the government the proper notice and discovery
demands. Gov. Mot., at p. 8. In support of this claim they cite to a singular line in the beginning
of the opening statement where counsel stated "that [a] government can allow drug kingpins to
operate openly decades solely for the bribes and the economic advantages that drug dealing does
for their impoverished countries but mostly for the money." Tr. at 5l:24-52:3.
The Second Circuit recognizes two o'closely-related," but slightly different forms of the
public authority defense. United States v. Giffen , 473 F.3d 30,39 (2d Cir. 2006). In the f,rrst, the
defendant takes the position that his actions, although in violation of some statute, were lawful
because he was authorized by the government to take those acts. Id. Alternatively, the other
theory depends on the proposition that the government enticed the defendant into committing the
illegal acts, leading him to reasonably believe he was authorized to do so. k!.2
Further, speculation that the government was aware of the criminal acts and did not interfere is
not a public authorit)¡ defense. United States v. Rosenthal ,793 F.2d 1214, 1237 (1 1th Cir. 1986)
(public authority defense requires a real, and not merely speculative, grant of permission).
2 According to the Criminal Resource Manuel utilized by the Department of Justice, there are
actually three possible defense theories which may constitute a Public-Authority Defense. First,
the defendant honestly, even if mistakenly, believed that he was performing the crimes charged
in the indictment in cooperation with the government. Second, the defendant knowingly
committed a criminal act while reasonably relying on a grant of authority from a government
official to engage in illegal activity. Finally, "entrapment by estoppel" occurs when a
goveffìment official commits an error and the defendant violates the law while relying on that
government official. See, Department of Justice, Criminal Resource Manual (DoJ Manual),
Public Authority Defense :
https://rvwwjustice.gov/jm/criminal-resource-manual-2055-public-authority-defense (last
accessed November 13,2018). In the Second Circuit, the f,rrst and second positions are
considered combined into the same doctrine.
Case 1:09-cr-00466-BMC-RLM Document 446 Filed 11/14/18 Page 3 of 5 PageID #: 5581
Hon. Brian M. Cogan
United States District Judge
November 14,2018
page 4
Examining that specific line in the context of the entire paragraph (Tr. at 5l:17-52:3), it is
clear that defense counsel was speaking generally about the behavior of governments, and not
about their actions towards Mr. Guzman in particular. Moreover, the reference to impoverished
nations excluded the United States from counsel's statement. The government is claiming that a
general assertion that the evidence in this case will demonstrate that governments can be comrpt
is somehow a claim that Mr. Guzman was not only trafficking narcotics (a claim which was
never made in the opening statement and explicitly rebutted (Tr. at 68:25-69:l)), but that he was
doing so under the belief that the govemment of Mexico was either permitting or supporting him.
Giffen, 473 F.3d at 39.
While the government provides vague objections to the lack of any Rule 12.3 discovery received,
they utterly fail to cite to a single line in defendant counsel's opening statement which actually
supports a claim of either theory of public authority. See generally Gov. Mot. The reason for
this is simple, there was no improper claim that Mr. Guzman believed he was trafficking
narcotics with the permission of the government, and certainly not the United States government
responsible for this prosecution.
Accordingly, the government's claim that defense counsel's opening statement
improperly cited to a public authority defense is entirely without merit.
il. Witness Testimonv Resardi Other Witness' Credibilitv
Even though the government did not raise this issue in their motion, the Court asked that
the parties address the issue of one witness' testimony concerning the character trait of honesty
for another witness. Tr. at 70:I4-I7.
V/hile the Second Circuit has "repeatedly held that it is improper to ask one witness to
express an opinion as to the credibility of another witness," (United States v. Duarte,14F. App'x
46, 52 (2d Cir.2001)) this prohibition applies only to asking a witness to make a "credibility"
"determinationf]" regarding specific acts or lies (e.g., United States v. Richter,826F.2d206,208
(2d Cir. 1987)) — and does not impact an attomey's ability to ask a witness concerning another
witness' general character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, as permitted by Rule 608(a). See
Fed. R. Evid 608(a) ("4 witness's credibility may be attacked or supported by testimony about
the witness's reputation for having a character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or by testimony
in the form of an opinion about that character") (emphasis supplied); see Hodges v. Keane, 886
F.Supp. 352,355 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). In this manner, questions about potential lies made by
another witness on the stand invade "the traditional province of the jury," (g.g., United States v.
Forrester, 60 F.3d 52, 63 (2d Cir. 1995)), while general questions about a witness' truthfulness or
untruthfulness do not.
Case 1:09-cr-00466-BMC-RLM Document 446 Filed 11/14/18 Page 4 of 5 PageID #: 5582
jurrnnv Lrcrmr¿eu
Hon. Brian M. Cogan
United States District Judge
November 14,2018
page 5
IV. Conclusion
For the foregoing reasons, the defendant respectfully submits that defense counsel's
opening statements neither put forth a selective argument or public authority defense, and the
government's motion to strike the delivered portion of defense counsel's opening statement
should be denied. Additionally, as counsel has shown, a witness is allowed to testiff about
another witness' character for truthfulness, or lack thereof, under Rule 608(a).
Respectfully submitted,
Jeffrey Lichtman
cc: All counsel (by email and ECF)
Case 1:09-cr-00466-BMC-RLM Document 446 Filed 11/14/18 Page 5 of 5 PageID #: 5583

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>