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Name: United States v. Lopez
Case #: 05-50433
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/30/2006

During appellant’s trial for being a deported alien found in the United States, he asserted a duress defense in that he entered the United States hoping to get arrested and avoid being harmed by a drug dealer. During arguments, the prosecutor noted that appellant failed to tell anyone that he was afraid for his life, and didn’t go to anyone and explain the circumstances. On appeal, he argued that the government had made impermissible references to his post-Miranda silence. The appellate court found that Doyle error had occurred when the prosecutor asked appellant whether he had ever told police about the threats he received, and during argument when the prosecutor commented on appellant’s silence. However, the error was harmless because even though the prosecutor impermissibly elicited testimony and argued appellant’s post-Miranda silence, it was permissible for the jury to consider appellant’s prearrest, pre-Miranda silence as substantive evidence of guilt. Further, there was overwhelming evidence of guilt, and the jury did not deliberate over the evidence very long. Further, there was no due process violation because the questions were immediately objected to and the court gave appropriate limiting instructions.