U.S. v. John, 2017 WL 743976 (2/27/17)(NM)

The Tenth, which rejects confrontation, jury instruction, and lesser-included-offense claims re: aggravated sex abuse and aggravated sexual contact convictions. The district court properly refused to permit cross-examination of the victim about a bizarre incident in which the victim made dubious claims about her sister coercing her to consume alcohol and the victim subsequently slit her wrists and was hospitalized and evaluated for mental health disorders. The Tenth decides none of this is relevant to her ability to perceive, remember, or relate the events she testified about at trial. The three challenged jury instructions were just fine. The instruction that the victim's testimony could be believed without corroboration did not suggest the victim was especially credible. It was proper to give an instruction that an attorney's communication with a witness does not reflect on the truth of the witness's testimony--despite the fact that during the trial, the prosecutor called for a recess after its witness testified untruthfully, then was permitted to return to the stand and change her testimony. An instruction that the jury can infer a person intends the natural and probable consequences of acts is ok so long as the instructions as a whole tell the jury of the government's burden to prove the necessary intent beyond a reasonable doubt. A simple assault instruction was appropriately denied because there was no reasonable basis to conclude the charged assault occurred without sexual intent.