United States v. Mitchell-Hunter, No. 10-2203 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Defendant was apprehended on a boat in the Caribbean by a Coast Guard counter-narcotics patrol and charged under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. 70501-70508. The boat, carrying cocaine, did not display a flag or numbers. Columbian and Venezuelan authorities could not confirm its registration. A vessel without nationality is subject to U.S. jurisdiction under the Act. The district court denied a motion to dismiss based on the Confrontation Clause. Defendant argued that use of State Department certifications memorializing the inability of Columbia and Venezuela to confirm or refute the boat's master's claim of national registry, without an opportunity to cross-examine their author, constituted a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The First Circuit affirmed, noting that defendant did not claim that the boat was registered in another country or otherwise outside U.S. jurisdiction.