United States District Court, D. Minnesota
P. Steinkamp, Assistant United States Attorney, on behalf of
Zayed, Esq., Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Minneapolis, MN, on
behalf of Defendant Kelvin Baez.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Defendant Kelvin Baez's
(“Baez”) Motion for New Trial [Docket No. 517]
under Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Baez argues a new trial is warranted because the Court erred
in not giving his proposed jury instruction on good faith or
innocent intent, and because the prosecution made
inflammatory remarks during closing argument that prejudiced
the jury. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is
January 16, 2019, after an eight day trial, a jury found Baez
guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess firearms in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and aiding and
abetting possession with intent to distribute
methamphetamine. Verdict [Docket No. 513]. During the trial,
Baez's theory of defense was that he did not act with the
intent to distribute methamphetamine or to join the
conspiracies charged because he believed in good faith that
he was assisting a government informant in a drug trafficking
investigation. Baez requested the following proposed jury
instruction on his theory of defense:
Mr. Baez asserts that he had a good faith belief and acted
with innocent intent at all relevant times charged in the
indictment because he honestly believed that he was assisting
law enforcement in its investigation of drug trafficking and
drug traffickers and therefore he did not act with any intent
to distribute methamphetamine or with any intent to join the
conspiracies charged knowing their purposes.
A person acts in “good faith” or with
“innocent intent” when he or she has an honestly
held belief, opinion, or understanding that negates the
intent element the government must prove beyond a reasonable
doubt, even if the belief, opinion, or understanding turns
out to be inaccurate, incorrect or unreasonable.
If you have a reasonable doubt as to whether Mr. Baez acted
in “good faith” or with “innocent
intent” then such a reasonable doubt would be a
complete defense because good faith or “innocent
intent” would be inconsistent with acting with the
intent to distribute methamphetamine or with voluntarily and
intentionally joining a conspiracy knowing its purpose.
Mr. Baez does not have the burden of proving “good
faith” or “innocent intent.” Good faith or
innocent intent is a defense because it is inconsistent with
the mental state element the government must prove beyond a
reasonable doubt. In deciding whether the government proved
beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Baez acted with the intent
to distribute methamphetamine or with the intent to join the
conspiracies charged knowing their purposes, or, whether
there is a reasonable doubt as to whether Mr. Baez acted in
good faith or with innocent intent, you should consider all
of the evidence presented in the case that may bear on Mr.
Baez's state of mind.
Proposed Supplemental Jury Instr. [Docket No. 480].
proposed instruction is largely based on Model Instruction
5.07 from the Third Circuit,  which provides in part that
“[a] person acts in ‘good faith' when he or
she has an honestly held belief, opinion, or understanding
[that is inconsistent with the required mental state], even
though the belief, opinion, or understanding turns out to be
inaccurate or incorrect.” Third Circuit Model Jury
Instr. 5.07. The second paragraph of Baez's proposed
instruction generally tracks this language but, in addition
to stating that the honestly held belief may be
“inaccurate or incorrect, ” Baez's proposed
instruction injects the belief may be
Court declined to give the requested instruction. Instead, an
instruction on ...