United States v. Alcantara-Castillo

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 06-11-2015
  • Case #: 12-50477
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Wardlaw for the Court; Circuit Judge Nelson; Dissent by Circuit Judge Rawlinson.
  • Full Text Opinion

A prosecutor may not create a scenario to force a defendant to testify on a government witness’s credibility.

Martin Alcantara-Castillo (“Alcantarar”) was attempting to cross into the United States when he was restrained by Border Patrol Agent Hunter. Alcantara asserted that Agent Hunter searched his backpack, finding empty food containers and bottles inside. However, Agent Hunter testified that he did not personally search Alcantara’s backpack. Additionally, Alcantara testified that he was under the influence of methamphetamine, which altered his state of mind, causing him to be unaware of his actions which lead to illegal re-entry. As a result of his actions though, Alcantara was convicted of illegal reentry into the United States. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that a prosecutor may not create a scenario to force a defendant to testify on a government witness’s credibility. Here, the prosecutor forced Alcantara to vouch for the witness’s testimony, or admit he was perjuring himself. Although this type of error may be remedied with an appropriate instruction, the instruction here was insufficient. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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