United States v. Jackson, No. 17-2117 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Jackson was convicted for conspiracy to distribute over 1,000 grams of heroin, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846; possession with intent to distribute a substance containing heroin, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1); and distribution of a substance containing heroin, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1). The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that the district court abused its discretion when it allowed a witness to testify that Jackson had threatened to kill her and that the prosecutor’s closing argument included improper vouching and invited the jury to consider matters other than his guilt in reaching its verdict. The threat testimony was both relevant to, and probative of, the central issue: whether Jackson conspired to distribute heroin. Even if the prosecutor’s comments were improper, the evidence against Jackson was substantial so that those comments did not affect the jury’s verdict; in addition the comments directly responded to the defense’s efforts to undermine the credibility of witnesses based on their cooperation with the government. The defense had an opportunity to counter the statements.