Palacios was convicted of conspiracy and racketeering crimes rising from his membership in the MC-13 gang. On appeal he challenged the admissions of evidence of several of his criminal acts, certain expert testimony and evidence from a cellmate. He also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. The panel affirmed. It held the criminal acts either helped prove the conspiracy or were necessary to complete the story of the alleged criminal conduct, that the expert properly relied on hearsay to reach his conclusions and the cellmate was not a government agent because of his plea deal with the government. The panel also held the evidence demonstrated MS-13 in an enterprise as it has members, a decision-making process, ritual initiations and acts to achieve purposes of maintaining a reputation for violence.
A fugitive was observed by Ham, the fugitives bail bondsman, entering Gregg’s home. Ham brought other bondsman and several members of the sheriff’s department with him to search for the fugitive. There was no warrant to search Gregg’s house. Gregg was disabled. She felt coerced into allowing the armed ham and a deputy into her house. The fugitive was not found. Ham made later contacts with Gregg despite being told by her family to cease. Gregg suffered from PTSD and depression as a result of the incident. She sued Ham and the sheriff’s office under 42 USC 1983 and was awarded $100,000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages for violation of her constitutional rights, assault and trespass. On appeal, Ham argued he was entitled to qualified immunity. The panel rejected this argument under plain error review holding bail bondsman are not entitled to qualified immunity and the defense would not be proved under the facts here even if the defense were available. The panel found the evidence accepted by the jury was sufficient to prove the constitutional violation and assault. It finally held the compensatory and punitive damage awards were supported by the evidence.