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Name: United States v. Rosales-Aguilar
Case #: 14-50315
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 04/12/2016

Trial court did not err by allowing prosecution to impeach expert witness with defendant’s voluntary but un-Mirandized statements to law enforcement. Rosales was charged with illegal reentry into the U.S. His defense was that he lacked the specific intent to be convicted of illegal reentry because his entered the U.S. accidentally while high on heroin and meth. He did not testify, but a psychiatrist, who he had retained as an expert, did. The psychiatrist relayed Rosales’s drug explanation during trial. The government, in turn, impeached the expert with un-Mirandized statements Rosales made to border patrol officers wherein he admitted that he had left Mexico to find work and live in the U.S. Rosales appealed, arguing that it was improper to admit his statements. Held: Affirmed. Prosecutors are permitted to “impeach defendants using incriminating yet voluntary and reliable statements elicited in violation of Miranda requirements.” (James v. Illinois (1971) 493 U.S. 307, 312.) But a defendant’s un-Mirandized statements cannot be used to impeach witnesses other than the defendant who testify about their own observations. (Id. at p. 310.) That limitation, however, is inapplicable where, as here, an expert witness is simply recounting the defendant’s statements.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: