59 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 1995), 95-1207, United States v. DeStefano

Docket Nº:95-1207.
Citation:59 F.3d 1
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Anthony S. DESTEFANO, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:July 12, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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59 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 1995)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Anthony S. DESTEFANO, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 95-1207.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 12, 1995

Heard June 6, 1995.

Walter F. McKee, with whom Lipman and Katz, P.A., Augusta, ME, was on brief, for appellant.

Helene Kazanjian, Asst. U.S. Atty., with whom Jay P. McCloskey, U.S. Atty., and Jonathan R. Chapman, Asst. U.S. Atty., Portland, ME, were on brief, for U.S.

Before SELYA, Circuit Judge, CAMPBELL, Senior Circuit Judge, and CYR, Circuit Judge.

SELYA, Circuit Judge.

A jury in the United States District Court for the District of Maine found appellant guilty, inter alia, of assisting an escape in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 752(a). 1 Appellant says that the district court shunned a jury instruction crucial to his defense. Discerning no error in the lower court's eschewal of the requested instruction, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Following Philip DeStefano's arrest and indictment on federal narcotics charges, the government housed him at a county jail. DeStefano contacted his younger brother, defendant-appellant Anthony S. DeStefano, and solicited assistance in a contemplated escape. He told appellant to park his van at a specific

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location at a specific time, and await developments. Appellant agreed.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on September 8, 1994, Philip DeStefano bolted. After another prisoner boosted him over an interior fence, he scaled an exterior fence topped by barbed wire, took his leave of the jailhouse grounds, and followed the railroad tracks for a short distance. As he travelled along the tracks, he spotted officers conversing casually near the jail. Realizing that the guards had not yet discovered his departure, he discarded his distinctively colored prison shirt and sauntered across a parking lot to appellant's van. The two brothers then drove toward friendlier climes.

The authorities became aware of the escape at approximately 11:30 p.m. By then, the DeStefano brothers had a three-hour head start. Several days later, lawmen captured them in New York. Federal prosecutors charged appellant with assisting an escape in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 752(a) and with concealing an escaped prisoner in violation of the harboring statute, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1072. 2

We omit any exegetic account of the intervening proceedings and cut directly to the heart of the appeal. Appellant pleaded not guilty and stood trial. At trial's end, he requested the following jury instruction:

When the physical control has ended by flight beyond immediate active pursuit, the escape is complete. Any assistance beyond this point is not aiding and abetting.

The district court refused to give this instruction in haec verba, instead telling the jury that:

The crime of aiding or assisting an escape cannot occur after the escapee reaches temporary safety. After that, aid or assistance to a fugitive is no longer aiding or assisting his escape, whatever else it might be.

Appellant took a timeous objection to the charge, see Fed.R.Crim.P. 30, on the ground that the court should have given the "flight beyond immediate active pursuit" instruction, and that its failure to do so undermined the defense.

The jury found appellant guilty on both counts (assisting an escape and harboring an escapee). Following imposition of sentence, appellant perfected this appeal. He challenges only his conviction under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 752(a).

II. DISCUSSION

This is a rifle-shot appeal that draws a bead on the district court's refusal to embrace the "flight beyond immediate active pursuit" instruction. The standard of review is ironclad: "The trial court's refusal to give a particular instruction constitutes reversible error only if the requested instruction was (1) correct as a matter of substantive law, (2) not substantially incorporated into the charge as rendered, and (3) integral to an important point in the case." United States v. McGill, 953 F.2d 10, 13 (1st Cir.1992); accord United States v. Nason, 9 F.3d 155, 161 (1st Cir.1993), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 114 S.Ct. 1331, 127 L.Ed.2d 678 (1994); United States v. Gibson, 726 F.2d 869, 874 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 960, 104 S.Ct. 2174, 80 L.Ed.2d 557 (1984).

To be sure, a defendant has a right to an instruction on his theory of the case as long as that theory is valid and is supported by the record. See United States v. Flores, 968 F.2d 1366, 1367 (1st Cir.1992). But, that right is not a license "to put words in the judge's mouth." McGill, 953 F.2d at 12. Jury instructions are intended to furnish a set of directions composing, in the aggregate, the proper legal standards to be applied by lay jurors in determining the issues that they must resolve in a particular case. See Calhoun v. Acme Cleveland Corp., 798 F.2d 559, 564 (1st Cir.1986). Provided that the charge satisfies this need, the court's choice of language is largely a matter of discretion.

The rule in this circuit, therefore, is that "[s]o long as the charge sufficiently conveys

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the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language that the defendant prefers." McGill, 953 F.2d at 12; accord United States v. Mejia-Lozano, 829 F.2d 268, 272 (1st Cir.1987). By the same token, the judge is not obligated to instruct on every particular that conceivably might be of interest to the jury. See United States v. Nazzaro, 889 F.2d 1158, 1167 (1st Cir.1989); United States v. Rule Indus., Inc., 878 F.2d 535, 543 (1st Cir.1989). On appeal, the central inquiry reduces to whether, taking the charge as a whole, see Francis v. Franklin, 471 U.S. 307, 315, 105 S.Ct. 1965, 1971-72, 85 L.Ed.2d 344 (1985); Cupp v. Naughten, 414 U.S. 141, 146-47, 94 S.Ct. 396, 400-01, 38 L.Ed.2d 368 (1973), the instructions adequately illuminate the law applicable to the controlling issues in the case without unduly complicating matters or misleading the jury. See United States v. Alzanki, 54 F.3d 994, 1001 (1st Cir.1995); Davet v. Maccarone, 973 F.2d 22, 26 (1st Cir.1992) (listing other cases).

Predictability and consistency are important in the law, and judges tend to use the same phrases over and over in explaining particular concepts to jurors. Appellant argues that he wanted no more than to have the district court use time-honored language here, and that the court should have yielded to his entreaty. He points to three precedents that he says cast the court's disavowal of the "flight beyond immediate active pursuit" articulation into disrepute. We examine each of these cases.

In Orth v. United States, 252 F. 566 (4th Cir.1918), a prisoner fled from a Georgia penitentiary. Four weeks later, he appeared on the defendant's doorstep in South Carolina, seeking asylum. The defendant lent a helping hand. A jury subsequently...

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55 practice notes
  • 810 F.Supp.2d 347 (D.Mass. 2011), Cr. 09-10166-MLW, United States v. DiMasi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 30 Agosto 2011
    ...sufficiently conveys the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language the defendant prefers." United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 2-3 (1st Cir.1995) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); see also United States v. Gonzalez, 570 F.3d 16, 21 (1st Cir.2009). [6] ......
  • United States v. Dimasi, 083011 MADC, 09-10166-MLW
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 30 Agosto 2011
    ...sufficiently conveys the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language the defendant prefers." United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 2-3 (1st Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); see also United States v. Gonzalez, 570 F.3d 16, 21 (1st Cir. 2009). [6......
  • 685 F.Supp.2d 293 (D.Puerto Rico 2010), Crim. 09-269 (FAB), United States v. Rodriguez-Rodriguez
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Puerto Rico
    • 19 Febrero 2010
    ...the trial court need not adopt the precise instructional language proposed by the defendant." Id. (citing United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir.1995)). Page 303 In this case, the Court's instructions adequately covered the theory of self-defense as it is applicable in cases......
  • 817 F.Supp.2d 9 (D.Mass. 2011), Cr. 09-10166-MLW, United States v. DiMasi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 11 Octubre 2011
    ...purposes of defendants' motions for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33). [71] See United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 2-3 (1st Cir.1995) (" [S]o long as the charge sufficiently conveys the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language the defen......
  • Free signup to view additional results
55 cases
  • 810 F.Supp.2d 347 (D.Mass. 2011), Cr. 09-10166-MLW, United States v. DiMasi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 30 Agosto 2011
    ...sufficiently conveys the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language the defendant prefers." United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 2-3 (1st Cir.1995) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); see also United States v. Gonzalez, 570 F.3d 16, 21 (1st Cir.2009). [6] ......
  • United States v. Dimasi, 083011 MADC, 09-10166-MLW
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 30 Agosto 2011
    ...sufficiently conveys the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language the defendant prefers." United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 2-3 (1st Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); see also United States v. Gonzalez, 570 F.3d 16, 21 (1st Cir. 2009). [6......
  • 685 F.Supp.2d 293 (D.Puerto Rico 2010), Crim. 09-269 (FAB), United States v. Rodriguez-Rodriguez
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Puerto Rico
    • 19 Febrero 2010
    ...the trial court need not adopt the precise instructional language proposed by the defendant." Id. (citing United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir.1995)). Page 303 In this case, the Court's instructions adequately covered the theory of self-defense as it is applicable in cases......
  • 817 F.Supp.2d 9 (D.Mass. 2011), Cr. 09-10166-MLW, United States v. DiMasi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 11 Octubre 2011
    ...purposes of defendants' motions for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33). [71] See United States v. DeStefano, 59 F.3d 1, 2-3 (1st Cir.1995) (" [S]o long as the charge sufficiently conveys the defendant's theory, it need not parrot the exact language the defen......
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