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United States v. Lacerda

3rd Circuit

May 5, 2020

In this consolidated appeal, the defendants challenged their judgments of conviction, raising several claims of error, including challenges to the admission of evidence as well as to the sentences imposed. The 3rd Circuit affirmed.


For the first time in a precedential opinion, the 3rd Circuit addressed the permissible scope and limits of overview testimony. The Court held that overview testimony that opines on ultimate issues of guilt, makes assertions of fact outside of the officer’s personal knowledge, or delves into aspects of the investigation in which he did not participate is inadmissible. But an officer, who is familiar with an investigation or was personally involved, may tell the story of that investigation—how the investigation began, who was involved, and what techniques were used. Additionally, with proper foundation, the officer may offer lay opinion testimony and testify about matters within their personal knowledge
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