Keith H. Rutman, Attorney at Law
Call Today 24/7 For A Free Consultation
Toll Free: 888-714-6354
local: 619-573-4988
Main navigation

It's not my job as your attorney to tell you what you want to hear, it’s to tell you what you need to know

Appellate court rules that drug crimes indictment be dismissed

When the government ignores a suspect's claims that he or she acted under duress in a drug smuggling incident when entering the country from Mexico, the case may be dismissed if the defendant is prevented from presenting his or her claim. When the government destroys video evidence that would support the suspect's claim of duress, the drug crimes case may also be dismissed. According to a decision recently handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a case based on an arrest made at one of California's border checkpoints has been dismissed.

A border agent allegedly found packages of heroin and methamphetamine on a woman as she attempted to enter the United States. The agent, however, ignored the suspect's claims that members of a Mexican cartel had forced her to attach the drugs to her body and that, if she did so, her family members would not be hurt. The suspect reportedly requested that Homeland Security obtain the video footage from the border that would support her claim during a later interview.

The agent did not honor the woman's requests, so, when the defendant's attorney requested the video, the government revealed that the footage had been destroyed. The defendant entered a conditional guilty plea before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. That plea allowed her to pursue justice on appeal through her claim that she had been denied the opportunity to fully defend herself due to the government having destroyed evidence.

The federal appeals court held that the drug crimes indictment had to be dismissed because the government's obstructive procedures violated the woman's due process rights. The court rejected the government's claims that the woman still had the opportunity to testify about the coercion and that she did not need the video. The court, sitting in Pasadena, California, held that compelling her to testify in her own defense would be in violation of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The case does not say that the video would have proved the woman's case but that the right to present all of the available evidence in one's behalf should not be unduly limited.

Source:, "Indictment Tossed for Destruction of Evidence", Jamie Ross, March 19, 2015

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information


  • "Keith Rutman isn't just a great lawyer—he is figuratively and literally a life saver, having saved my life twice. First in a figurative way. I was facing serous charges and was fearing the worst – a lengthy prison sentence. He applied his expert legal knowledge to secure a positive solution to my problem. It far exceeded my expectations and I received probation. He offered me essential advice on both legal and strategic matters. Mr. Rutman was always immediately available to assist me. I would expect this kind of outstanding service from any lawyer who stands at the top of his profession." Learn More...
  • "Dear Mr. Rutman, I can't begin to thank you for all you have done for Jarrett and Jordan - specifically Jordan; you have gone over and above what most attorneys would do, and treated Jordan so well accepting his "I don't know what your talking about mentality". Jordan is greatly relieved it is over but I don't think he understands fully what is expected of him for the next 12 months." - Judy, Jarrett and Jordan Learn More...
  • "Mr. Rutman did a great job in my dispute over the accuracy of my criminal record against the State of California, and he got the Court to order it changed in my favor. I would highly recommend Mr. Rutman, he is diligent and prompt and very knowledgeable. He would be my first choice if I ever need an attorney again, and he should be yours." - Jerry S Learn More...
  • "Keith and I have handled very complicated trials together including multiple bank robberies and murder cases. I highly endorse Keith. He is always a well prepared, caring, and aggressive criminal defense attorney." Learn More...
  • "I opposed Keith in a federal civil rights claim brought in federal court. Keith was creative and determined to advocate his clients interests and was a pleasure to work with. A true professional in every regard. Enthusiastically recommended and endorsed!" Learn More...