United States v. Ignasiak, Jr., No. 09-10596 (11th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Defendant, a medical doctor licensed by the State of Florida, appealed his convictions for dispensing controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. 801, et seq., and for health care fraud. Defendant's convictions resulted in three separate but related appeals including his contention that the district court erred or abused its discretion by allowing the introduction of autopsy reports or handwritten medical notes without requiring testimony by their authors. The court reversed defendant's convictions because the admission of the autopsy reports and testimony about those reports, without live in-court testimony from the medical examiners who actually performed the autopsies, violated the Confrontation Clause under the facts of the case. Because the court concluded that this issue was dispositive, the court declined to address the other issues raised in defendant's merits appeal, except for the sufficiency of the evidence claim. While the court ultimately concluded that the evidence was sufficient, the degree to which the court viewed the government's case as less than overwhelming compelled the court's conclusion that the Confrontation Clause violation was not harmless in this case.