COFFEY, Circuit Judge.
Betty Kladouris appeals her conviction for arson in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), conspiracy to commit arson in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and knowingly and wilfully making false statements to a government agent in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
In 1985 the appellant and her husband, James Kladouris, were the owners of the Honey Bee Restaurant in Burnham, Illinois. At approximately 10:20 p.m. on November 11, 1983, a police officer observed a fire at the restaurant and contacted the Burnham Fire Department. Fire fighters upon arrival discovered and extinguished a fire in the restaurant storeroom. Samples of cardboard as well as paper retrieved from the storeroom and submitted to a forensic chemistry expert were found to contain traces of a mixture of two distillates, petroleum naphtha
Following the fire, the defendant was interviewed by a special agent of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ("ATF") assigned to the arson profits squad. Kladouris informed the agent that she was alone in the restaurant after the last waitress had departed around 9:45 p.m., and upon securing the doors, she locked up at 10:00 p.m. In addition, she related that none of the restaurant's bills were overdue except for a disputed water bill. The investigation revealed that two men (Kladouris' brother, Sam, and an unidentified friend) were with Kladouris when the waitress left. The investigators further determined in contradiction of the defendant's statement that many of the Honey Bee's bills were in arrears and had been in arrears for some time prior to the date of the fire. On January 30, 1990, a grand jury returned a four-count indictment, charging Kladouris with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, making false statements to a federal agent and mail fraud.
At trial, the government introduced testimony from three expert witnesses to establish that the fire was the result of arson. An electrical engineering expert testified that on the basis of his own inspection of the restaurant premises, there was no electrical malfunction present that could have caused the fire to ignite; a forensic chemistry expert who analyzed the samples of cardboard and paper retrieved from the storeroom testified that they contained a combination of fuel oil and petroleum naphtha, which together would cause a hot fire almost instantaneously after being ignited; and a cause-and-origin arson expert, who examined the scene of the fire, testified that on the basis of his own investigation as well as the testimony of the other two experts, he believed the fire was "purposely set with the intention of burning property." The cause-and-origin expert further testified that the pattern in which the fire burned, an inverted "V", evinced that the fire was deliberately started with the use of an "accelerant" because normal fires begin small at the base and spread out as they go up rather than wide at the base with a narrow apex. The defendant attempted to rebut the government's expert with an alleged expert who would have testified: a) that the presence of distillates does not always indicate arson; b) that a "V" burn pattern fails to demonstrate that a fire was deliberately started; and c) that the fire could have been caused by spontaneous combustion due to the presence of dirty aprons and towels contaminated with grease and fats in a laundry bag in the storeroom. The court excluded the evidence, ruling 1) that the witness failed to possess the qualifications, training or knowledge required to express an opinion to a reasonable degree of certainty concerning the significance of the presence of distillates and hydrocarbons in the cardboard and paper from the storeroom; 2) the testimony about the burn pattern would be speculation, since the witness had never seen an inverted "V" burn pattern nor did he personally investigate the fire; and 3) there was an inadequate factual basis for a conclusion that spontaneous combustion may have occurred.
In demonstrating the defendant's motive for torching the restaurant, the government introduced evidence of the financial difficulties the business was experiencing.
The government established Kladouris' opportunity to commit the arson or participate therein through a number of factors. There was no evidence of a break-in at the restaurant, and from the defendant's own testimony, it is evident that she departed only six minutes before the fire became so intense that it melted the minute hand of a clock in place at 10:06 p.m. A neighbor who observed the defendant's brother Sam and his friend in the restaurant while eating dinner there on the evening of the fire testified that while he was in his parents' backyard within view of the Honey Bee Restaurant, he observed Sam or his associate walk out of the restaurant about 10:00 p.m., get a paper bag out of the defendant's white Cadillac, and return with it to the restaurant. Additionally, over the objection of the defendant, the government introduced the grand jury testimony of another witness (Stanley Wadas) who was unavailable because he died before trial. Wadas' earlier grand jury testimony recounted that at 10:05 p.m. on the night of the fire he was in his T.V. room (facing the rear of the restaurant and its parking lot) watching the news. At this time he noticed the defendant's (Betty Kladouris') white Cadillac in the parking area where she customarily parked it, and several minutes later, he noticed that the white Cadillac had been moved to the front of the restaurant. At about this same time, he observed a man run out of the Honey Bee and jump into the passenger side of the white Cadillac as the car drove off. At trial the defendant testified that after the last waitress left at 9:40 p.m., she was alone in the Honey Bee, and that prior to leaving she checked the restaurant premises but did not go into the storeroom. She further stated that when she left the restaurant that evening she did not have a passenger riding with her in her car, nor was her brother Sam at the Honey Bee on the day of the fire.
II. ISSUES FOR REVIEW
The appellant raises the following issues: 1) whether the trial court's admission of the grand jury testimony of a deceased witness in evidence violated the hearsay rule and the defendant's Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause rights; 2) whether the trial court erred by refusing to admit evidence of a post-fire conversation between the restaurant's landlord and the defendant's husband; 3) whether the trial court erred in admitting the restaurant's lease and insurance policy as evidence of the defendant's motive; 4) whether Kladouris received ineffective assistance of counsel as the result of the alleged conflict of interest (raised for the first time on appeal) arising from her own trial counsel's representation of her husband on a contingency fee basis in an action to recover insurance proceeds from the fire; 5) whether the trial court erred in giving the conscious avoidance or "ostrich" instruction along with aider and abettor instructions; and 6) whether the trial court improperly refused to allow the defendant's fire expert to testify.
III. GRAND JURY TESTIMONY
The trial court admitted in evidence the grand jury testimony of Stanley Wadas, a deceased witness, under Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(5).
Wadas' testimony contains only one statement that was uncorroborated by other witnesses and thus "more probative on the point for which it [was] offered than any other evidence which the [government could] procure through reasonable efforts." Rule 804(b)(5)(B). Shortly after 10:05 p.m., Wadas observed a man run out of the restaurant and enter the passenger side of the defendant's car, which was then driven away in a direction different from the course of travel the defendant generally used as she departed from the restaurant.
We review a district court's rulings on the admissibility of evidence under an abuse of discretion standard. United States v. Snyder, 872 F.2d 1351, 1354 (7th Cir.1989). Moreover, the district court is afforded "considerable discretion, within the parameters of the Rules of Evidence, in determining whether the hearsay statements contain the necessary circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness." United States v. Vretta, 790 F.2d 651, 659 (7th Cir.1986).
United States v. Doerr, 886 F.2d 944, 955-56 (7th Cir.1989) (quoting United States v. Snyder, 872 F.2d 1351, 1355-56 (7th Cir. 1989)).
The trial judge's ruling reveals that he "analyzed [this case] on its own facts":
We agree with the trial judge's ruling that the statements of the deceased witness contain the necessary guarantees of trustworthiness. The appellant's primary contention is that the testimony is unreliable only because Wadas was never subjected to cross-examination. Since grand jury witnesses are never cross-examined, and the law permits the admission of such testimony when it complies with the requirements of Rule 804(b)(5), the lack of cross-examination is immaterial. Kladouris' speculation that Wadas may have been biased (and that cross-examination could have exposed the bias) is unsupported in the record. She has failed to establish any proof of bias through other witnesses much less a reason for bias. Moreover, the fact that one item in Wadas' testimony was uncorroborated goes merely to the weight of the evidence, not its reliability. If every word of the testimony were corroborated, there would be no necessity for it, and it might not meet the 804(b)(5)(B) requirement that it be "more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence which the proponent can procure through reasonable efforts." The appellant has not only failed to persuade us that the trial court abused its discretion, but likewise has failed to persuade us to rule differently.
Kladouris argues that the admission of Wadas' grand jury testimony violated her Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause rights because it "is unreliable under the Sixth Amendment for the same reasons it is unreliable under Rule 804(b)(5)." Since the quoted language is the extent of the appellant's Confrontation Clause argument, our holding under Rule 804(b)(5) that the testimony was sufficiently reliable is decisive on this issue. Furthermore, "perfunctory and undeveloped arguments, and arguments that are unsupported by pertinent authority, are waived (even where those arguments raise constitutional issues)." United States v. Berkowitz, 927 F.2d 1376, 1384 (7th Cir.1991).
IV. EXCLUSION OF POST-FIRE CONVERSATION
Some sixty days after the fire, the property owner allegedly advised Jim Kladouris that he planned to rebuild the restaurant and hold the Kladourises to the terms of the lease. In response, Jim Kladouris purportedly informed the owner that he wanted the restaurant rebuilt because it was his intention to re-open the Honey Bee. The appellant argues that the court erred in excluding this testimony because it would have demonstrated that her husband viewed the fire as an accident, thus undermining the government's evidence that she had a motive to burn the restaurant. She contends that her husband's "innocent knowledge and motive ... should have
Defense counsel was even less specific in attempting to persuade the judge to overrule the government's objection to similar testimony from the defendant's husband:
It is clear from the discussion between the defense attorney and the court that trial counsel failed to inform the judge that he was arguing that the testimony was not hearsay because it was being submitted to establish the defendant's husband's state of mind (two months after the fire).
United States v. Wynn, 845 F.2d 1439, 1442 (7th Cir.1988) (citations omitted); see also United States v. Gonzalez, 933 F.2d 417, 429 (7th Cir.1991). Since the defendant failed to raise the state-of-mind issue to the trial court, we hold it to be waived on appeal.
V. ADMISSION OF THE LEASE AND INSURANCE POLICY
In order to establish the defendant's motive in torching the restaurant to ease her financial troubles, the government introduced into evidence the Honey Bee's rental lease, which revealed that the lease could be terminated as the result of a fire, as well as the insurance policy for the restaurant, which included fire coverage. The defendant argues that the trial court committed plain error in admitting the terms of the Honey Bee's lease and insurance policy as motive evidence. Both documents were signed by the defendant's husband alone, and the defendant contends that the government presented no evidence that she had knowledge of the contents of either document. Thus, she asserts that the insurance policy and the lease were not relevant evidence of her motive to torch the establishment. Since the defendant did not object to the admission of the lease nor the insurance policy, she has waived the argument on appeal. United States v. Harty, 930 F.2d 1257, 1261 (7th Cir.1991). While we are free to consider arguments that have been waived if we believe there was plain error, see Fed.R.Crim.P. 52(b); United States v. Moya-Gomez, 860 F.2d 706, 717 n. 11 (7th Cir.1988), we are unpersuaded that any error was committed, much less plain error. The defendant's husband testified at trial that he cannot read. In view of his inability to read and the fact that the defendant was the only person
VI. INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CLAIM
The defendant asserts that she received ineffective assistance of counsel as the result of the recently alleged conflict of interest arising from her counsel's representation of her husband on a contingency fee basis in a civil case involving the payment of the $76,000 insurance claim on the fire in question.
The record establishes that the issue of whether the defendant's trial counsel's representation of her husband on a contingency fee basis for the insurance claim would cause a conflict of interest was initially discussed at the defendant's arraignment. Prior to jury selection, the trial court specifically questioned the defendant on this issue in an attempt to determine whether she was aware of a possible conflict and if there was one, whether she desired the same attorney to continue representing her. The potential conflict raised dealt with the question that a situation might conceivably arise where it would be in the defendant's best interest to plead guilty, but it probably would not be in her attorney's best interest to allow her to do so because of his financial interest in the outcome of her husband's trial as a result of the contingency fee arrangement. But when the trial judge raised this problem with her, the defendant stated emphatically that she had no intention of pleading guilty and wanted her husband's attorney (Cohen) to defend her despite the potential conflict. See infra. The record demonstrates that the trial judge went to great lengths to explain this possible conflict of interest and did all in his power to ensure that the defendant clearly understood the possible conflict. The hearing was even adjourned for an hour in order that the attorney might privately discuss the alleged conflict of interest with her. When the hearing resumed, the district court made further inquiries of the defendant concerning the conflict issue:
The record reveals that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived any conflict of interest her trial counsel may have had due to his interest in the contingency fee. The defendant claims that the trial judge's inquiry was inadequate, since he failed to suggest other possible prejudicial results from the alleged conflict of interest to her.
The appellant speculates that the alleged conflict of interest adversely affected her trial counsel's representation of her because "Cohen's interest in the civil case precluded him from shifting any blame from the defendant to her husband or otherwise distancing her from her husband, even though that might have been in the defendant's best interest." Kladouris further submits that her attorney's failure to object to the admission of evidence concerning the insurance policy and lease as well as his failure to object to the "ostrich" instruction likewise supports an inference of a conflict of interest.
We analyze the appellant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim under the test set forth by the Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
Johnston v. Mizell, 912 F.2d 172, 175 (7th Cir.1990) (citations omitted). The Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel includes the right to be represented by an attorney who is not operating under a conflict of interest. See United States v. Balzano, 916 F.2d 1273, 1292-93 (7th Cir. 1990). "[T]he defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action [failure to object] `might be considered sound trial strategy.'" Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065 (citation omitted). Since the defendant failed to raise an objection to her attorney's alleged conflict of interest at trial, she is required to "demonstrate that an actual conflict of interest adversely affected [her] lawyer's performance." Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 348, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 1718, 64 L.Ed.2d 333 (1980).
Our review of the record reflects that the defendant has been unable to demonstrate any specific instance where a possible conflict affected her trial counsel's performance. The defendant testified at trial that she was the last person to leave the Honey Bee at 10:00 p.m.,
VII. OSTRICH INSTRUCTION
The defendant asserts that the trial court erred in giving the conscious avoidance or "ostrich" instruction to the jury "because the government argued that the defendant was guilty as an aider and abettor" and "the giving of the `ostrich' instruction for an aider and abettor is reversible error." The trial court gave the Seventh Circuit Pattern Instruction 6.04 to the jury:
This court has repeatedly approved the use of this instruction under appropriate circumstances similar to those we have here. See United States v. DeFazio, 899 F.2d 626, 635-36 (7th Cir.1990); United States v. Diaz, 864 F.2d 544 (7th Cir.1988); United States v. Holland, 831 F.2d 717 (7th Cir.1987).
The appellant's argument that it was inappropriate to give the "ostrich" instruction in conjunction with an aider-and-abettor charge either stems from a careless reading of the record or even possibly an attempt to mislead this court. The "ostrich" instruction was given during the final jury instructions to aid the jury in its deliberation concerning the question of whether the defendant knowingly and willfully made false statements to the ATF agent about being alone when she closed the restaurant and about the restaurant bills not being in arrears. The court stated:
Tr. at 746. The trial judge included the "ostrich" instruction in the following sentence and, in this context, the instruction relates only to whether the defendant was aware that the statements she gave to the ATF agent were false. Thus, the appellant has failed to support her assertion that the district court erred in giving the "ostrich" instruction.
VIII. DEFENDANT'S ALLEGED EXPERT WITNESS
The expert the defendant offered concerning the cause of the fire neither inspected the scene of the fire nor did he review any photographs much less any of the paper or cardboard samples taken from the scene. The defendant contends that the district court erred in refusing to
The trial court excluded the spontaneous combustion testimony, ruling that the record was barren of a factual basis to support the theory that the fire occurred as a result of spontaneous combustion. The court stated:
The appellant's argument that "[t]he trial court's ruling that there was an inadequate factual basis does not justify exclusion of [the expert's] testimony" is absurd. The total absence of a factual basis (not even an examination of the site nor any examination of the physical evidence therefrom) for an expert's testimony always justifies exclusion. Hence, the trial judge properly excluded the testimony concerning the possibility of spontaneous combustion.
The trial court refused to allow the defendant's expert to testify about the significance of the burn pattern of the fire, as the expert's statement that he had never seen an inverted "V" burn pattern indicated that his testimony on that issue would amount to nothing other than speculation. The court found that the expert's testimony on this issue would present "a very substantial danger of confusing the issues and misleading the jury." See Rule 403. The defendant failed to object to the trial court's ruling that the witness would be speculating rather than submitting expert testimony and has likewise failed to challenge this finding on appeal. Thus, the appellant has waived her argument that the district court erred in excluding her expert's testimony about the burn pattern.
As to the proffered expert's testimony about the presence of petro chemicals, the district court stated:
The decision of the district court is
The appellant does not challenge the court's determination that elements (A), (B) and (C) have been met.