Former Sheriff Thomas Rodella loses appeal in Tenth Circuit

Today the Tenth Circuit issued its decision in United States v. Thomas Rodella, affirming the convictions of the former Rio Arriba County (N.M.) sheriff arising from a road rage incident in which he threatened a young motorist with a firearm. Sheriff Rodella was convicted of violating the young man’s right to be free from unreasonable force and seizure, and for using a dangerous weapon while doing so, and was sentenced to just over 10 years in prison.

Judge Briscoe’s opinion rejects Rodella’s claims: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for violating the victim’s right to be free from unreasonable force and seizure; (2) that the jury should have been instructed that the victim suffered more than de minimis physical or emotional injury; (3) that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of other incidents in which Sheriff Rodella allegedly abused his power; (4) that the prosecutor committed misconduct by arguing that the other incidents were evidence of Rodella’s alleged propensity for violence; and (5) that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of Rodella’s training in the pursuit of a suspect’s vehicle.

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