Judge Voids Drug Verdict; Prosecutors Protest

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Federal prosecutors say that a judge in Rochester has no authority to overturn a guilty verdict that could have sent Tyshawn Ross to prison for 10 years on a drug charge. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports that U.S. District Judge Charles Siragusa ruled that the jury didn’t hear evidence that could have led to an acquittal: a co-defendant’s persistent claims that Ross is innocent. The prosecution is permission from the Justice Department to appeal the ruling.

Defense lawyers say the case also highlights the power that prosecutors wield in federal courts and the inequities that can occur. Jeffrey Wicks, Ross’ attorney, says Ross had nothing to bargain with because he is innocent.

Ross, 31, was arrested with a friend, Mark Montgomery, who sold crack cocaine to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent in June 2002. Authorities acknowledge that Ross’ name never came up during the investigation, but he could end up with one of the longest sentences of the seven people accused in the conspiracy.

Prosecutors argue that without compelling new evidence, the jury’s verdict should be sacrosanct.

Ross, who had no criminal record, is unemployed. He thought Siragusa’s ruling would prompt prosecutors to either drop the charges or move ahead to a new trial: “Going through this I’ve received a crash course in ‘Judicial System 101. …

I always thought the judge was the boss.”

Link: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/news/0131O934KSI_news.shtml

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