United States v. Adams, No. 19-3761 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats and violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1951, with the exception of the district court's order taxing costs for grand jury witnesses. Defendant was an internet entrepreneur and social-media influencer, and his convictions stemmed from his efforts to force the victim to transfer a domain name.
The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in finding that the Government's reasons for striking the only Black prospective juror were race-neutral and not pretextual; there was overwhelming evidence that defendant committed the crime of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats and violence, and the testimony regarding a collateral issue did not affect defendant's substantial rights and did not have more than a slight influence on the verdict; the district court did not abuse its discretion in assessing costs for a witness who attended but did not testify at trial; the district court did not err in ordering defendant to reimburse the government $22,000 in attorney fees; the district court did not procedurally err in imposing offense-level increases under USSG 2B3.2(b)(3)(A)(i), (4)(B), and (1) when calculating his total offense level; and the district court did not err when it imposed a two-level increase under USSG 2B3.2(b)(1). However, the court concluded that the district court abused its discretion by assessing costs for witnesses who testified before the grand jury because those costs are not taxable against defendant.