United States v. Chung

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 09-26-2011
  • Case #: 10-50074
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Circuit Judges Goodwin and Kleinfeld
  • Full Text Opinion

The government’s failure to turn over exculpatory information does not violate its duty under Brady v. Maryland, when the evidence against the defendant is so overwhelming that the exculpatory information would not reasonably have resulted in a different trial outcome.

Dongfan Chung was an engineer with Boeing and Rockwell for over 40 years. In September of 2006, federal agents, acting on information that he might be involved in providing trade secrets to China, found more than 300,000 pages of Boeing and Rockwell documents in his house. Chung was indicted and, after a subsequent bench trial, was convicted on counts of economic espionage, conspiracy to commit economic espionage and other charges. He appealed his convictions, arguing that they were not supported by sufficient evidence. He also argued that he was entitled to a new trial because the government did not turn over exculpatory information in violation of its duty, Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The Ninth Circuit concluded that Chung’s downloading of sensitive materials, his trip to China in 2003, incriminating letters, documents found at his home, and his attempts to secretly dispose of sensitive documents, were sufficient grounds to allow a rational trier of fact to conclude that Chung was guilty of acting for, and under, the direction of Chinese officials. The Court also found that Chung was guilty of violating the trade secret provision of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, as the evidence was sufficient to show that Chung possessed documents that contained trade secret information, and used those documents to benefit China. Finally, the Court found that Chung’s case had not been prejudiced by the government’s failure to turn over exculpatory documents as the evidence against him was overwhelming, and introduction of the exculpatory evidence would likely not have resulted in a different outcome. AFFIRMED.

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