Wednesday, October 23, 2013

U.S. v. Black (9th Cir. - Oct. 23, 2013)

I agree with a lot of what Judge Noonan has to say in dissent.  Particularly about the sentencing entrapment part.  When the government invents -- out of whole cloth -- a purported "stash house" that purportedly has a ton of cocaine in it, and then seeks out (in a "reverse sting") people to steal from it, there's a huge ability to set defendants up for long sentences based upon a purported volume of drugs that never actually existed.

I would nonetheless side with Judge Fisher's majority opinion.  It's true that the government didn't actually target known criminals here.  It just hired a CI to troll bars in the "wrong part of town" to see if he could hit up someone to rob a purported stash house.  Yeah, that's sort of creating crime out of nothing.

But I don't think that's especially outrageous.  These are serious crimes.  A regular person approached by a stranger in a bar is not likely to agree to rob a cocaine stash house guarded by multiple dealers with guns just because someone offers him the opportunity to do so.  Anyone who says "yes" to that is likely to be a pretty bad guy.  Someone we want off the street.  Sure, I'd rather have individualized suspicion at the outset.  But sometimes we don't.  We need to troll.  We do it for fish.  We do it here.  I don't have a huge problem with that.  At least for crimes that, like here, are only likely to entice someone who's really, really bad.