United States v. Fernandez, No. 17-3421 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Seventh Circuit affirmed Fernandez’s conviction as a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), and his 27-month sentence. Voecks, the driver of the car in which Fernandez was found with a firearm, gave the arresting officer, Frusti, contradictory (recorded) accounts about the gun’s ownership and who had placed it in the center console of the car. When the defense attempted to ask Voecks about what Frusti had said to him and vice-versa, the district court sustained the government’s hearsay objections, essentially confining the cross-examination of each witness to his own statements. The Seventh Circuit upheld that ruling. Fernandez has not shown that any of the omitted details of the interrogations mattered enough to demonstrate reversible error; Fernandez’s failure to invoke his Confrontation Clause rights below and his ability to raise the essential points as to Voecks’ change of story defeated any claim of plain error. The court also upheld the district court’s ruling precluding Fernandez from questioning defense witness Stramowski, another passenger in the car, about the content of the texts she had purportedly received from Voecks before the trial and upheld a ruling permitting the government to establish that Fernandez was arrested during the traffic stop on an outstanding warrant for a probation violation.