United States v. Hardrick

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 09-04-2014
  • Case #: 13-50195
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Murguia for the Court; Concurrences by Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Noonan
  • Full Text Opinion

Prior acts evidence intended to show knowledge of the defendant doesn’t need to be similar to the charged act, so long as the prior act was an act that would tend to make the fact that the defendant actually had knowledge more probable than not.

Following a jury trial, Lawson Hardrick was found guilty of two counts of knowingly receiving visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). Hardrick had filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of other, uncharged child pornography videos that were found on his computers. However, the district court agreed with the government in that the evidence was admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence ("FRE") 404(b) in that the possession of the other videos tended to prove that Hardrick had knowingly received the videos, and would go against his defense of mistakenly or accidentally having downloaded the videos, and that the videos were not unduly prejudicial under FRE 403. Hardrick filed this timely appeal arguing that the district court abused its discretion in its application of a balancing test to determine the probative value presented by the uncharged videos, compared to any undue prejudice against him; and, that the district court was improper in not giving a limiting instruction on the 404(b) videos when they were admitted into evidence. The Ninth Circuit held that the probative value of the uncharged videos was not outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice against Hardrick and that the district court was not required to give a contemporaneous limiting instruction when the evidence was admitted. Prior acts evidence intended to show knowledge of the defendant doesn’t need to be similar to the charged act, so long as the prior act was an act that would tend to make the fact that the defendant actually had knowledge more probable than not. Further, the district court was not required to give the limiting instruction because the defendant did not ask for one at the time the evidence was admitted, and the court did give such a limiting instruction in the jury instructions. AFFIRMED.

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