Van Tran v. Roden, No. 15-2133 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 1991, six men were shot, execution-style, in an illegal gambling club in Boston's Chinatown district; one (Lee) survived. Lee testified that Tran arrived at the club with one of the victims after they had been drinking. Tran left, then returned with Tham and Pham. All three had guns. Lee felt a gun at the back of his head, heard a bang, and lost consciousness. Two hours later, Lee regained consciousness. Arrest warrants issued, but the three had left the country. Authorities in China arrested Tran in 1999, and Tham in 2000. They were extradited. At trial, the Commonwealth was allowed to introduce, as evidence of consciousness of guilt, a passenger manifest and ticket inquiry showing that three weeks after the shooting, passengers named Tran, Tham, and Pham flew on United Airlines from New York to Hong Kong, having purchased their tickets together. Both were convicted and sentenced to five consecutive terms of life in prison, plus 24 to 25 years. State courts affirmed. They filed federal habeas petitions. The First Circuit affirmed denial of relief, rejecting arguments that the prosecution’s use of photocopies of the flight records violated the Sixth Amendment either because defendants had a right to confront someone who knew the airline's procedures for verifying passenger identities at the time of the flight or had a right to confront the person who created the records.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on February 1, 2017.