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Name: U.S. v. Jesus-Casteneda
Case #: 11-10397
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/30/2013
Summary

Allowing confidential informant to testify while in disguise does not violate a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers or due process. Appellant was convicted of federal drug trafficking offenses. On appeal he challenged the lower court’s order allowing a confidential informant to testify while in disguise. Held: Affirmed. As the Supreme Court held in Maryland v. Craig (1990) 497 U.S. 836, in evaluating such issues the trial court should determine whether allowing a disguise furthers an important state interest and whether the reliability of the evidence may be otherwise assured. This involves considering if the proceedings respect the four elements of confrontation: physical presence, oath, cross-examination, and allowing the trier of fact to observe the witness’s demeanor. Here, the disguise was necessary for witness safety. Reliability was assured by the witness’s presence, oath, cross-examination and the jury’s ability to view him while testifying. Any potential due process violation, such as an implication the defendant’s dangerousness caused the witness to wear a disguise, was rendered harmless by the overwhelming evidence.