Justia International Trade Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
In the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the case involved Peter Sotis, who was convicted for violating export controls. He had conspired to export diving equipment, specifically rebreathers, to Libya without a license, despite the Department of Commerce requiring a license to export certain products to Libya that implicate the United States’ national security interests.Sotis challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support each count of his conviction, the opinion testimony presented at trial, and the reasonableness of his 57-month sentence. He argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove willfulness, to prove that he and another individual had acted in conspiracy, and to prove that the rebreathers were closed-circuit, which would have resulted in a material and prejudicial variance from the indictment. He also claimed that one expert witness and one lay witness invaded the province of the jury by opining on an ultimate issue in the case.The Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Sotis had sufficient knowledge of the illegality of his conduct to have willfully violated the export control laws. The Court also found that the government sufficiently proved that Sotis conspired with another individual to violate the export control laws. Moreover, the Court rejected Sotis's argument that there was a material variance between the indictment and the evidence presented at trial.Regarding the expert and lay witness testimonies, the Court held that the testimonies were not improper. The Court also found that the district court did not err in applying the sentencing guidelines and that Sotis's sentence was not substantively unreasonable. As a result, the Court affirmed Sotis's conviction and sentence. View "USA v. Sotis" on Justia Law