Thursday, December 5, 2013

United States v. Fowler case brief

United States v. Fowler case brief summary
605 F.2d 181 (1979)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant challenged the decision of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, which convicted defendant of willful failure to file his tax returns and denied defendant's request for a continuance in order to obtain counsel, forcing defendant to proceed at trial pro se.

CASE FACTS
Defendant was convicted of willful failure to file his tax returns. On appeal, defendant argued that the district court erred in denying his request for a continuance in order to obtain counsel.

DISCUSSION

  • The court found that the grant or denial of the continuance was in the broad discretion of the trial judge. 
  • Furthermore, defendant was given ample opportunity to do so. 
  • Thus, the fact that defendant's motion for a continuance was denied and defendant had to proceed at trial pro se did not constitute error. 
  • Defendant also argued that the district court erred when it gave a jury instruction that attempted to explain burden shifting. 
  • The district court found that defendant, proceeding without counsel, did not object to the charge. 
  • Furthermore, the court found that the instruction, touching at most on the burden of production and buried in a charge that correctly placed the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on the government, did not constitute error. 
  • The district court's decision was affirmed.

CONCLUSION
District court's decision that convicted defendant of failure to file his tax returns and denied his motion for continuance in order to obtain counsel was affirmed. The district court did not err in denying defendant's motion because defendant had ample time to obtain counsel.

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