485 U.S. 58 (1988), 86-6109, Mathews v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 86-6109
Citation:485 U.S. 58, 108 S.Ct. 883, 99 L.Ed.2d 54, 56 U.S.L.W. 4183
Party Name:Mathews v. United States
Case Date:February 24, 1988
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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485 U.S. 58 (1988)

108 S.Ct. 883, 99 L.Ed.2d 54, 56 U.S.L.W. 4183

Mathews

v.

United States

No. 86-6109

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 24, 1988

Argued December 2, 1987

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Petitioner, an employee of the Small Business Administration (SBA), was the principal SBA contact for James DeShazer, the president of a company that participated in an SBA program. DeShazer believed that his company was not being provided with certain program benefits because he had rejected petitioner's repeated requests for loans. Assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in an investigation of the matter, DeShazer, under FBI surveillance, offered petitioner a previously requested loan, which petitioner agreed to accept. Later, DeShazer met petitioner and gave him the money. Petitioner was immediately arrested and charged with the federal offense of accepting a bribe in exchange for an official act. The District Court denied petitioner's pretrial motion seeking to raise an entrapment defense, ruling that entrapment was not available because petitioner would not admit all of the elements (including the requisite mental state) of the offense. Petitioner testified in his own defense that, although he had accepted the loan, he believed it was a personal loan unrelated to his SBA duties. The court refused to instruct the jury as to entrapment, the jury found petitioner guilty, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Even if the defendant in a federal criminal case denies one or more elements of the crime, he is entitled to an entrapment instruction whenever there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find entrapment -- a defense that has the two related elements of Government inducement of the crime, and a lack of predisposition on the defendant's part to engage in the criminal conduct. There is no merit to the Government's contention that, because entrapment presupposes the commission of a crime, a defendant should not be allowed both to deny the offense or an element thereof, and to rely on the inconsistent, affirmative defense of entrapment. Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifically authorize inconsistent pleading, the absence of a cognate provision in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is not because of the Rules' intent to more severely restrict criminal defendants than civil parties, but because of the much less elaborate system of pleadings -- particularly with respect to the defendant -- in a criminal case. A simple not guilty plea puts the prosecution to its proof as to all elements of the crime charged, and raises the defense of entrapment. Moreover, the Government's arguments that allowing a defendant to rely on inconsistent defenses

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will encourage perjury, lead to jury confusion, and subvert the trial's truthfinding function are not persuasive. The question whether the evidence at trial was insufficient to support an entrapment instruction was pretermitted by the Court of Appeals, and is open for consideration by that court on remand. Pp. 62-66.

803 F.2d 325, reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 66. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 67. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 68. KENNEDY, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case requires the Court to decide whether a defendant in a federal criminal [108 S.Ct. 885] prosecution who denies commission of the crime may nonetheless have the jury instructed, where the evidence warrants, on the affirmative defense of entrapment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the ruling of the District Court, which had refused to instruct the jury as to entrapment because petitioner would not admit committing all of the elements of the crime of accepting a bribe. 803 F.2d 325 (1986). This holding conflicts with decisions of other Courts of Appeals, which have taken a variety of approaches to the question.1 We

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granted certiorari to resolve this conflict, and we now reverse.

Petitioner was employed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was responsible for the SBA's "8A Program," which provided aid to certain small businesses. Under the program, the SBA obtained Government contracts and subcontracted them to program participants. The SBA would then assist the participants in performing the contracts. Midwest Knitting Mills, whose president was James DeShazer, was one of the participants in the 8A Program. DeShazer's principal contact at the SBA was petitioner.

In October, 1984, DeShazer complained to a Government customer that petitioner had repeatedly asked for loans. DeShazer believed that petitioner was not providing Midwest with certain 8A Program benefits because DeShazer had not made the requested loans. In early 1985, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arranged for DeShazer to assist in the investigation resulting from his complaint. Under FBI surveillance, DeShazer offered petitioner a loan that, according to DeShazer, petitioner had previously requested.

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Petitioner agreed to accept the loan, and two months later, DeShazer met petitioner at a restaurant and gave him the money. Petitioner was immediately arrested and charged with accepting a gratuity in exchange for an official act. 18 U.S.C. § 201(g).

Before trial, petitioner filed a motion in limine seeking to raise an entrapment defense. The District Court denied the motion, ruling that entrapment was not available to petitioner because he would not admit all of the elements (including the requisite mental state) of the offense charged. The District Court did, however, allow petitioner to argue as his first line of defense that his acts "were procurred [sic] by the overt acts of the principle [sic] witness of the Government, Mr. DeShazer."2

App. 131.

At trial, the Government argued that petitioner had accepted the loan in return for cooperation in SBA matters. The Government called DeShazer, who testified both that petitioner had repeatedly asked for loans and that he and petitioner had agreed that the loan at issue would result in SBA-provided benefits for Midwest. The Government also played tape recordings of conversations between DeShazer and petitioner in which they discussed the loan. Petitioner testified in his own defense that, although he had accepted the loan, he believed it was a personal loan unrelated to his duties at the SBA. Petitioner stated that he and DeShazer were friends, and that he had accepted a personal loan from DeShazer previously. According to petitioner, he was in dire financial straits when DeShazer broached the possibility of providing a loan. Petitioner also testified that DeShazer had stated that he needed quickly to get rid of the money that he was offering to petitioner because he had been hiding the money from his wife and was concerned that she would be upset if she discovered this secret; DeShazer had also stated

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at one point that, if petitioner did not take the money soon, DeShazer would be tempted to spend it.

At the close of the trial, petitioner moved for a "mistrial" because of the District Court's refusal to instruct the jury as to entrapment. The District Court noted that the evidence of entrapment was "shaky at best," ibid., but rather than premise its denial of petitioner's motion on that ground, the court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that, as a matter of law, petitioner was not entitled to an entrapment instruction because he would not admit committing all elements of the crime charged. The jury subsequently found petitioner guilty.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's refusal to allow petitioner to argue entrapment:

When a defendant pleads entrapment, he is asserting that, although he had criminal intent, it was "the Government's deception [that implanted] the criminal design in...

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