In United States v. Beach, No. 21-11342 (Aug. 30, 2023) (Luck, Lagoa, Tjoflat), the Court affirmed Mr. Beach’s conviction.
Mr. Beach was convicted of tampering with a witness, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(2)(A). He appealed his conviction on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of the offense in 3 respects: (1) the alleged threat of physical force only related to a criminal investigation–a controlled drug purchase–and not an “official proceeding”; (2) the evidence failed to establish that he intended to prevent the witness from testifying in an official proceeding because he did not know about or foresee that there would be a grand jury or court proceeding; and (3) the evidence failed to establish that he was the person who threatened the witness because the government did not authenticate the jail calls or call the witness to testify that he was the person on the phone with her.
As an initial matter, the Court reviewed Mr. Beach’s first two issues for plain error only because they were not specifically raised in the district court. That is, although Mr. Beach moved for a judgment of acquittal on the government’s failure to prove “the essential elements of the charge,” this failed to apprise the court of the particular grounds on which he would later seek appellate relief.
With regard to the second issue, the Court held that § 1512(a)(2)(A) was subject to the same nexus requirement as other provisions of § 1512. That is, a person can only be convicted if the government can prove a nexus between the accused’s actions and the relevant judicial proceedings. Here, the Court found sufficient evidence of Mr. Beach’s intent to influence an official proceeding because his threats had a relationship in time, causation or logic with an upcoming grand jury proceeding and trial.
With regard to the first and third issues, the Court found the evidence to be more than sufficient.