United States v. Piper, No. 17-10913 (5th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendant Piper and Cortinas' conviction and sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that Piper was not deprived of due process and compulsory process under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments when the government did not produce a witness at trial because the witness' hearsay statements were inadmissible. Because the testimony was not clearly admissible, Piper could not show that denying the motion to continue would have resulted in serious prejudice. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Piper's motion for a new trial and the district court's application of a two-level enhancement for importation was not clearly erroneous. In regard to Cortinas and Piper's joint claim, the court held that the district court did not commit plain error in charging the jury and the verdict form was not ambiguous, inconsistent, nor did it incorrectly state the law.