ARMANDO GÓMEZ-ORTIZ, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
Civil No. 13-1032 (JAF),(Criminal No. 09-061)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO
130 F. Supp. 3d 523 (D.P.R., 2015); 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124997
Armando Gómez-Ortiz was convicted of possession of a machine gun in January 2012. In December of 2012, he filed a motion arguing for his sentence to be vacated, as his attorney was ineffective as well as the evidence being legally insufficient to support the charge. His argument is largely based upon the lack of fingerprint evidence on the firearm. He says that if his attorney, if not the government, had tested for fingerprints and analysis found none, it was prove that he had never touched the firearm, and therefore, never possessed it.
The court explains the errors in this defense. Firstly, the government has no legal duty to run a test for fingerprints, or any test for that matter. Many times, the analysis is not needed if there is enough evidence to support the charge. Secondly, fingerprint evidence would not necessarily exclude the defendant as it relies heavily on many potential factors and even if the defendants fingerprints are not found on the firearm, and those belonging to another are, it only shows that this other person was in possession of the firearm. Therefore, counsel cannot be founded ineffective because analysis was not performed. After deliberation, his motion was denied.
Forensic Summary by Gina Gallucci