As our last entry this year before heading off for the holidays, let’s take a look at a recent First Circuit decision in a Maine criminal case with a rare holding that the trial court abused its discretion in an evidentiary ruling, and the error wasn’t harmless. US v. Kilmartin, No. 18-1513 (Dec. 6, 2019). Judge Selya wrote the decision, with Judges Barron and Boudin on the panel. Jamesa Drake represented the defendant on appeal.
As described in the opinion, the defendant’s crimes would land him in the lowest circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. He falsely posed as a goldsmith to obtain cyanide, created a Gmail account, and searched out vulnerable people, agreeing to sell them the poison, but really sending them Epsom salts. When one victim tried to kill himself with the substance and failed, the defendant sent him a parcel with the real thing, and he died of suicide. The causes of action were