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The Champion

May 2005 , Page 55 

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Can Prosecutors Buy Testimony?

By Barry Tarlow

Read more RICO Report columns.

Can a prosecutor pay a fact witness for testimony? Surprisingly, the question has no clear answer, and a split in the circuits has emerged.

The general rules are reasonably clear about the benefits a fact witness can receive, such as money or perhaps most valuable freedom. Prosecutors can promise or grant leniency or immunity to people accused of crimes in exchange for their testimony. United States v. Singleton, 165 F.3d 1297 (10th Cir. 1999) (en banc) [hereinafter “United States v. Singleton (en banc)”], followed in United States v. Lowery, 166 F.3d 1119 (11th Cir. 1999); United States v. Ramsey, 165 F.3d 980 (D.C. Cir. 1999); United States v. Haese, 162 F.3d 359, 366-68 (5th Cir. 1998); United States v. Ware, 161 F.3d 414, 418-25 (6th Cir. 1998); United States v. Johnson, 169 F.3d 1092 (8th Cir. 1999). Benefits that are not obviously financial have usually been approved by the courts, and they at least are not viewed by the judiciary as bribery.

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