and Submitted October 6, 2017 Pasadena, California
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of California Cormac J. Carney, District Judge,
Presiding D.C. No. 8:12-cr-00011-CJC-1
T. Chen (argued), Glendale, California, for
Luotto Wolf (argued), Assistant United States Attorney;
Dennise D. Willett, Chief, Santa Ana Branch Office; United
States Attorney's Office, Los Angeles, California; for
Before: Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Susan P. Graber, and Morgan
Christen, Circuit Judges.
panel affirmed a conviction for distributing controlled
prescription drugs in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1), in a case in which the defendant contended that
the government's expert witness offered a legal
conclusion in violation of Fed.R.Evid. 702 and 704.
panel held that if the terms used by an expert witness do not
have a specialized meaning in law and do not represent an
attempt to instruct the jury on the law, or how to apply the
law to the facts of the case, the testimony is not an
impermissible legal conclusion. The panel held that the
district court in this case did not plainly err by admitting
the expert testimony of a witness who did not substitute his
judgment for the jury's but provided a professional
opinion about whether a course of conduct comported with the
standard of care prevalent in the medical community.
reasons stated in a concurrently-filed memorandum
disposition, the panel vacated the sentence and remanded for
CHRISTEN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Julio Diaz appeals his conviction and sentence under 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), contending that the government's
expert witness offered a legal conclusion in violation of
Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 704. We reject his
contention and affirm his conviction.
1995 until 2011, Dr. Julio Diaz operated a clinic in Santa
Barbara that catered to geriatric patients. In 2005, the
clinic also started offering pain management and treatment.
According to the government, this aspect of Diaz's
practice soon evolved into little more than a facade for the
illegal distribution of narcotics. Between 2008 and 2011,
Diaz wrote more than 50, 000 prescriptions and prescribed
more than 5 million opiate pills, with several patients being
prescribed, on average, more than 60 tablets per day. In
2012, Diaz was indicted for 88 counts of distributing
controlled prescription drugs in violation of 21 ...