Cases Related to Entrapment by the Police

United States vs Black

This case took place at the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. It was decided on October 23, 2013. The case arose when an agent serving the federal government in Phoenix recruited a confidential informant to carry out some undercover tasks (Findlaw, 2020). According to the instructions given to the informant, he was supposed to visit a “bad part of town” and recruit “bad guys”. These recruits would help to rob a fictional stash house. Once the confidential informant had recruited the first person, he linked him directly to the federal agent. The federal agent then urged the recruited person to bring more people on board in order to help in the robbery. The agent promised him that this act promised to come in handy and change their lives because the stash house contained many kilograms of valuable cocaine. As such, this was a promising venture as it promised significant financial returns. The first person recruited by the undercover agent was Shavor Simpson. Later, group to include Cordae Black, Kemford Alexander, Angel Mahon and Terrance Timmons.

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The court decided that they were guilty of conspiring to rob a stash house. The judges also convicted them of knowingly agreeing to participate in a crime of stealing and distributing cocaine, an illegal substance. The judges and the jury that passed this decision said that it was not an entrapment sentencing because all the participants had affirmed to the undercover agent that they had previously engaged in crimes. The judges also said that the conduct of the government was reasonable in the circumstances. However, there was a dissenting opinion that came from Judge Reinhardt. The judge raised many serious questions in regards to the role of the government in the incident, as well as the lack of critical evaluation of the case from his follow judges. The judge questioned if the government could target poor people in poor neighborhoods and tempt them into committing crimes that could result in them escaping poverty.

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The dissenting judge took an issue with the fact that that the agent had clear instructions to the informant to look for people that looked like bad guys in a bad town. This approach, to him, was discriminatory of vulnerable people and put the defendants in an impossible position of avoiding the trap. The judge said that it amounted to racial discrimination considering that the bad part of town that the informant was sent to was a minority place where the biggest population was that of blacks. The other point that was raised was the fact that the government predetermined the amount of drugs that the reverse sting operation would be handling, and, as such, had predetermined the length of time that the defendants would spend in jail once they were arrested. This is because the length of time spent in prison in connection to drug possession is usually determined by the amount of drugs one is caught with. Finally, the judge raised the issue of mass incarceration and the logic behind the government using the reverse sting operation to target the minority group. He said that at the age where the government should be confronting the issue of mass incarceration of blacks, it was instead going around manufacturing fake crimes in order to arrest and jail even more people of color.

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United States vs Hollingsworth

This case was heard and decided in the 7th Circuit. The determination and the ruling of the case happened on October 29, 1993. In this case, Hollingsworth and Pickard were convicted of money laundering. The conviction came from a jury, and the two men were sentenced to 24 and 18 months, respectively. However, majority of the judges in the court ruled that the men had been entrapped by the police. As such, the men deserved to be acquitted. In this decision, the circuit held that the government cannot defeat an entrapment defense by merely illustrating that the defendants were willing to commit a given offense.

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The court said that the accused persons, Hollingsworth and Pickard did not have the means to undertake an international money-laundering scheme. As such, the government facilitated the entire scheme. The court opined that the government cannot use its resources to induce people to commit crimes. The court said that the government should use its vast resources to shape the character of people, rather than inducing them to commit felonies. The judges finally by saying that a person who only commits a crime following an inducement by the government is not a threat to the society, regardless of their evils threats as might be demonstrated by undercover agents. Judge Easterbrook offered a dissenting opinion by pointing that the two men should have been charged different. The judge said that Pickard demonstrated willingness to carry out money laundering even without inducement from the undercover agent, Hinch. Though he agreed that Hollingsworth had been entrapped and deserve to be acquitted, his aide, Pickard, should not ride on the favorable ruling that Hollingsworth deserves.

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United States vs Rameriz-Rangel

This case happened in the 9th Circuit in 1996. In this case, the judges argued that they could not sentence the defendants on the type of weapon that was supplied in a reverse sting operation. The court argued that the government supplied the defendants with more drugs than they could afford in order to have them sentenced for longer years after their arrested. One of the main determinations to be made, however, was in connection to violation of U.S.C. §924(c). This clause is related to offenses that touch on possession of drugs and use of firearms at same time. The judges say that the undercover agents supplied to the defendants machine guns, rather than normal guns. The court considered this to be against the knowledge of the defendants, and that the government clearly entrapped the men, and had the intention of having them face more years behind bars. The judges unanimously referred the case to a lower for determination of whether the defendants had the knowledge of the weapons that were to be supplied by the agents.

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