UNITED STATES v. RECIO

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
01-1184
Petitioner 
United States
Respondent 
Recio
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 1997, police stopped a truck in Nevada and seized the illegal drugs that it was carrying. With the help of the truck drivers, the police set up a sting. Francisco Jimenez Recio and Adrian Lopez-Meza came for the truck and were subsequently arrested. A jury convicted Jimenez Recio and Lopez-Meza of conspiracy, but the trial judge ordered a new trial under Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent that held a conspiracy terminates when "'there is affirmative evidence of...defeat of the object of the conspiracy.'" In other words, the federal government could not prosecute the drug conspiracy defendants unless they had joined the conspiracy before the government seized the drugs. The new jury convicted the two men once again. In reversing, the Ninth Circuit held that the evidence presented at the second trial was insufficient to show that Jimenez Recio and Lopez-Meza had joined the conspiracy before the drug seizure.

Question 

Is the Ninth Circuit rule -- that a conspiracy ends automatically when the object of the conspiracy becomes impossible to achieve -- valid?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for United States, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

No. In a 9-0 opinion delivered by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court held that a conspiracy does not automatically terminate simply because the federal government has defeated its object, such that Ninth Circuit's conspiracy- termination law is erroneous. Justice Breyer stated that the Ninth Circuit's rule is inconsistent with basic conspiracy law and that the agreement to commit an unlawful act is "'a distinct evil,'" which "'may exist and be punished whether or not the substantive crime ensues.'" Justice John Paul Stevens filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

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UNITED STATES v. RECIO. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 01 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_01_1184>.
UNITED STATES v. RECIO, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_01_1184 (last visited September 1, 2014).
"UNITED STATES v. RECIO," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_01_1184.