or in the examination of the drugs seized in this case. In fact, there
was no evidence that Detective McDonald ever met or spoke with defendant
Martin. Therefore, the jury could not have reasonably concluded that
Detective McDonald had some special knowledge of Martin's mental
processes. See Lipscomb, 14 F.3d at 1242 (danger of prejudice of
expert's opinion as to defendant's mental state increased when expert is
one of the officers involved in the arrest).
Moreover, both the closing argument in the case and the jury charge
were consistent with Watson's general rule that the "defendant's intent
is an ultimate issue of fact that the jury alone must decide." Watson,
260 F.3d at 310. During its closing, the prosecution noted that Detective
McDonald "testified that this packaging is consistent with the wholesale
trade and it's [sic] his experience this much crack cocaine is not for
personal use. And I think you can use your own common sense in determining
whether that's accurate or not." Tr. Trans. 6/21/01, at 32. In its charge
to the jury, the court made no reference to Detective McDonald's specific
opinions and charged the jury that it had to determine the intent of the
defendant by considering all of the facts and circumstances in the case.
Id. at 97, 106-07. Thus, based on the totality of the circumstances and
properly placed in context, and in the absence of the persistent pattern
of improper questions aimed at eliciting state of mind testimony present
in Watson, it does not appear that Detective McDonald's testimony
violated either Rule 704(b) or the Watson mandate.
Secondly, the court finds that any error in the admission of the
McDonald testimony did not affect the outcome of defendant's trial. "In
most cases, a court . . . cannot correct the forfeited error unless the
defendant shows that the error was prejudicial," Olano, 507 U.S. at 734,
or otherwise "affect[ed] substantial rights (i.e. it affected the outcome
of the district court proceedings)." Navarro, 145 F.3d at 584-85 (citing
Olano, 507 U.S. at 734). Defendant has not met this burden.
Here, unlike Watson, where the only physical evidence of drug
trafficking was defendant's possession of 100 plastic bags, even without
Detective McDonald's statement, there was substantial evidence, including
the presence of drug paraphernalia consistent with drug trafficking in
the car and on the defendant at the time of his arrest, upon which a
reasonable jury could find that the defendant possessed the drugs found
in his vehicle with the intent to distribute.*fn8 Thus, the court finds
that the defendant has not met his burden of showing that there was plain
error which warrants a new trial.*fn9
The court finds that the investigatory stop of the defendant was based
on reasonable suspicion and the search of defendant's vehicle was
justified by probable cause. Thus, the evidence recovered from
defendant's vehicle was properly admitted into evidence at trial.
Additionally, the court finds that the introduction of the testimony of
Detective McDonald was not error. In any event, even if the admission of
the testimony was error, it was not plain error. Thus, defendant's
request for a new trial will be denied.
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 6th day of February, 2002, upon consideration of
defendant's Motion for Post-Trial Relief (doc. no. 76), it is hereby
ORDERED that the motion is DENIED for the reasons stated in the court's
memorandum dated February 6, 2002.*fn10
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.