United States v. Woods, No. 13-3105 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
James Woods and several others were indicted for participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Woods’s defense theory at trial was that he and the cooperating witnesses did not deal in methamphetamine, foreclosing Woods’s involvement in the charged conspiracy. Defense counsel argued the cooperators were lying about the charged conspiracy to obtain favorable treatment from the government as part of their plea bargain arrangements. In response to this line of attack, during his closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury, among other things, that, if the drug conspiracy was about “anything other than meth, then why would those witnesses all come in and plead guilty to . . . conspiracy to distribute meth?” Although Woods did not object to the prosecutor’s closing argument, he argued on appeal that the district court committed plain error in failing to sua sponte declare a mistrial or instruct the jury to disregard the objectionable statements. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed.