Can a Trial Judge Refuse to Answer Jury Questions of Fact ?

In United States v. Paulino, 996 F.2d 1541, 1546 (3d Cir. 1993) the defendants were charged with conspiring to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine over a period of thirty months.

Examining the evidence relied on by the trial court in calculating the defendants' sentences under the Sentencing Guidelines, the federal appellate court explained that "the most specific evidence of volume" presented by the government was a statement by one of the defendants' employees that the defendants' drug business had grossed $ 12,000 in a single night. Id.

Following the presentation of this evidence, the government called an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency to testify that cocaine sold at a price of $ 1,000 per ounce during the period of the conspiracy. Id.

The appellate court determined that this testimony constituted "quantifiable trial evidence" on which the sentencing judge was permitted to estimate the amount of cocaine involved in the conspiracy. Id. at 1548.