United States v. Mikhel and Kadomovas, Nos. 07-99008, 07-99009 (9th Circuit) May 9, 2018.
Foreign national defendants tortured and killed five individuals and dumped their bodies in a reservoir near Yosemite National Park.
Without asserting any identifiable protected belief or association concerning Nazism, defendant Kadamovas claimed error in the introduction in evidence of a weapon bearing symbols of Nazism and in introduction of a disparaging remark about a Jewish murder victim without mentioning the victim’s name.
The Ninth Circuit found no prejudicial error implicating any First Amendment right.
Although the Supreme Court has found introduction of irrelevant evidence of association with racially identified groups to be violative of Fifth Amendment rights, the introduction of the weapon had bearing on defendant’s participation in a conspiracy and the introduction of the disparaging statement was relevant to identifying a victim. Where there was no improper use of evidence to inflame the jury: no Fifth Amendment violation could be found.