Sunday, February 10, 2019

A defendant cannot be criminally liable for conspiring with a government informant


In United States v. Garner, Appeal No. 17-1181 (Feb. 8, 2019), https://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/171181p.pdf, the Third Circuit found sufficient evidence to affirm Garner’s convictions for conspiracy to commit armed bank robber, attempted bank robbery, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Garner had planned to rob a bank, but the person he asked to help him was an FBI informant who immediately told the FBI about Garner’s offer. Garner was arrested while the robbery was still being planned. Most of the short opinion reiterated settled law and analysis: (1) sufficiency of the evidence is reviewed in the light most favorable to the government; (2) the informant’s surveillance of a bank and three men’s detailed discussion to plan to rob it after that were sufficient to establish conspiracy even if the final details still had to be set; and (3) a defendant may commit an attempt even where he stops short of “the last act necessary” for the actual commission of the crime. The Court joined other Circuits (citing the Seventh and Tenth) and held that a defendant cannot be criminally liable for conspiring with a government informant. 

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