The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a man who transported illegal drugs from California for sale in North Dakota.
Antonio Medrano was convicted in federal court in North Dakota of two felony drug charges and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. He was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in January 2018.
He appealed on the grounds that irrelevant testimony was allowed and a jury selection error deprived him of a fair trial.
In his trial it was determined Medrano and a co-defendant were transporting methamphetamine to North Dakota from California. Medrano was stopped for a traffic violation in May 2015, and had a Bismarck hotel key card and $4,800 cash in a plastic bag in his possession. Drug paraphernalia, a handgun and more than a pound of meth were found in his motel room.
Medrano argued that the discovery of guns found in his California home was irrelevant because they had no connection to the one charged in the indictment. The appeals court stated in its ruling that “it was well within the district court’s discretion” to find that evidence seized in his California home was relevant to the North Dakota charges.
Medrano also argued that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated because four potential jurors made statements reflecting possible bias during jury selection. None of the four was chosen for the jury, but he argued their comments made him feel that “the jury was already stacked against him.”
The appeals court said in its ruling that since the issue was not raised during jury selection or after the jury was selected, it must focus on the jury that was actually seated.