Judge William A. Thorne Jr. recently upheld the conviction of a man accused to selling crack to an undercover officer.
The man was convicted of distributing or arranging to distribute a controlled substance, which is a felony. The man appealed his conviction due to various evidentiary problems in the case.
Central to the man’s appeal was the reliability of the undercover detective’s testimony. He alleged that the testimony was so unreliable that it couldn’t constitute sufficient evidence to sustain his conviction.
Specifically, the man alleged that there were multiple factors undermining the detective’s identification of him as the drug dealer, including:
- The short duration of the alleged transaction
- Poor lighting conditions
- The distracting presence of another drug dealer that the detective knew
- The different race of the detective
This last factor was important because courts have recognized that cross-racial identifications tend to be less accurate than same-race witness identifications.
Judge Thorne ultimately rejected the man’s claims on appeal. The threshold for challenging a trial court’s factual findings is rather high, and the judge noted that the man did not meet this high evidentiary burden.
Also, the major factor that harmed the man’s case appeared to be the fact that he was sharing a hotel room with the man who arranged the drug transaction with the undercover detective and that he was arrested a short time after the detective identified him to cops waiting in the area.
Judge Thorne affirmed the man’s conviction and Judges Gregory K. Orme and Michelle M. Christiansen concurred.
The Salt Lake City criminal defense team at Greg Smith & Associates handles drug defense throughout Utah. If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been charged with drug crime, call us at 801-651-1512 or contact us online.