I am a criminal defense lawyer who practices mostly in Atlanta, but I try to keep up with other cases from around the country if they involve the federal court system where I handle the bulk of my practice. I recently came across a case from south Florida, a case that reminded me that criminal defense lawyers need to fully understand and be able to explain to their clients that there really is no difference between “regular” evidence and “circumstantial evidence.” The case comes out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where I have done hundreds of appeals in my career and where I need to go for yet another oral argument in a few weeks.
The case from Florida involved a man named Spencer Rozier. Basically, surveillance videos and rental documents demonstrated that Mr. Rozier had a rather small unit in a private storage facility. He was the only renter, and the lease did not give anyone else access to the unit. He was observed visiting, and was seen carrying cases of beer, soda cans and water jugs (I’ve lived in Florida, and can attest to the need for constant hydration-my friends used to comment “Paul doesn’t drink a lot, he just drinks all the time”). The manager also saw others visit the facility along with Mr. Rozier, and these folks likewise carried boxes of beverages. The police raided the facility, discovered drugs inside that both smelled (marijuana) and which appeared to be obvious (transparent container holding cocaine, marijuana “protruding out of a bucket”, digital scales and baggies). Mr. Rozier also had similar baggies with him when stopped by the police a month later. Continue reading