Rowell v. United States

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Citation368 F.2d 957
Docket NumberNo. 18217.,18217.
PartiesHoward Eugene ROWELL, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Decision Date21 November 1966

Kenneth K. Simon, Kansas City, Mo., for appellant, and filed typewritten brief.

Clifford M. Spottsville, Asst. U. S. Atty., Kansas City, Mo., for appellee. F. Russell Millin, U. S. Atty., Kansas City, Mo., was with him on the printed brief.

Before MATTHES and LAY, Circuit Judges and REGAN, District Judge.

MATTHES, Circuit Judge.

After waiving the filing of an indictment, appellant with two other persons was charged in a multiple count information with violating 26 U.S.C. §§ 4742(a) and 4744(a) (1954), as amended, 26 U.S.C. § 4744(a) (Supp.1956).1 All three defendants were found guilty and appealed from the judgments of conviction. We reversed and remanded for another trial. Banks v. United States, 348 F.2d 231 (8th Cir. 1965). On remand appellant alone was tried and again found guilty on six counts.2 After the jury returned its verdict the United States Attorney filed an information pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7237 (1954), as amended, 26 U.S.C. § 7237 (Supp.1956), alleging that appellant had previously been convicted of violating 26 U.S.C. §§ 4704(a) and 4705(a) (1954). Appellant admitted the prior conviction and thereupon the court imposed the minimum sentence for a second offender, to-wit, ten years on each of the six counts, the sentences to run concurrently. This appeal followed.

The alleged offenses, transferring of marihuana without a written order (§ 4742(a), supra) and obtaining marihuana without payment of the tax thereon (§ 4744(a), supra) were proved by undisputed evidence. The investigatory methods employed by the Bureau of Narcotics in Kansas City, Missouri were typical of the procedures that the government has relied upon in its constant and laudable attempt to suppress and abolish illegal traffic in all types of narcotics, including, of course, marihuana.

The informer or undercover agent in this case was John McCullough. He had worked with federal and state narcotic bureaus in different parts of the United States for approximately sixteen years. He was living in New York City when he was contacted by the Kansas City Bureau of Narcotics and requested to assist in the investigation of unlawful activities in the Kansas City area. On August 28, 1963 McCullough, working under the supervision of the chief of the Kansas City office, went to the apartment of appellant in Kansas City, Missouri and informed him, in substance, that "a girl had sent me over here, and said that you could take care of me * * * and I started to tell him what I wanted; I told him I wanted some marihuana * * * or heroin * * *." Appellant informed McCullough that he was not in the business of selling marihuana. There was no purchase or transfer on that date. McCullough's statement about the girl was false and concededly used for the purpose of gaining appellant's confidence. McCullough saw appellant several times between August 28 and September 2, 1963. On the latter date appellant sold McCullough a quantity of marihuana for $65.00. On September 9th appellant sold two pounds of marihuana to McCullough for $150.00. The third sale was consummated on December 18, 1963. On that date appellant had agreed to sell McCullough four pounds of marihuana for $80.00 a pound but delivered only two pounds for which he was paid $170.00. The money used by McCullough on each of these three occasions had been furnished by narcotic agents. The testimony of McCullough was corroborated by narcotic agents who had kept him under surveillance during each of the three purchases.

Further discussion of the factual features of the case is unnecessary at this juncture. Appellant did not testify, did not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's verdict, did not deny possessing and transferring the marihuana on the three occasions mentioned, and did not claim that the evidence established the defense of entrapment as a matter of law.

The defenses interposed by appellant were typical of the defenses urged in like cases, namely, entrapment and the fact that the informer's character and past record was such that he was unworthy of belief.3 Cf. Roth v. United States, 270 F.2d 655 (8th Cir. 1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 931, 80 S.Ct. 368, 4 L.Ed.2d 352 (1960); Warren v. United States, 268 F.2d 691 (8th Cir. 1959); Accardi v. United States, 257 F.2d 168 (5th Cir. 1958), cert. denied, 358 U.S. 883, 79 S.Ct. 124, 3 L.Ed.2d 112 (1958). In the first trial of Banks, Johnson, and appellant the trial court refused to submit the defense of entrapment because in the court's opinion there was no factual basis for the submission of that defense. This became and was an issue on the first appeal. We were not required to and did not decide that question. In regard thereto we stated:

"Realizing that in another trial additional evidence may be forthcoming which could have a pertinent bearing on this issue, we pretermit determining whether on this record the entrapment defense should have been submitted. It is appropriate, however, to observe that ordinarily this defense raises a question of fact which should be submitted to the jury under proper instructions. Sorrells v. United States, supra; Cross v. United States, supra. However, submission is not required when evidence of entrapment is entirely lacking. United States v. Markham, 191 F.2d 936, 937 (7th Cir. 1951)." 348 F.2d at 236.

The evidence in the second trial was substantially the same as in the first trial. There was no additional evidence relating to the defense of entrapment. For this reason Judge Duncan was reluctant to submit the defense of entrapment, but "out of an abundance of caution" he submitted the issue to the jury. What ensued during the giving of the instructions is the source of appellant's contention that he was denied a fair and impartial trial.

In delivering the charge the court first informed the jury of its fact-finding responsibility and emphasized that it should not be influenced by any comment the court might make in connection with the instructions.4

Later the court carefully delineated the constitutive elements of the defense of entrapment as enunciated by the Supreme Court in Sorrells v. United States, 287 U.S. 435, 53 S.Ct. 210, 77 L.Ed. 413 (1932); Sherman v. United States, 356 U.S. 369, 78 S.Ct. 819, 2 L.Ed.2d 848 (1958), and by this court in Cross v. United States, 347 F.2d 327 (8th Cir. 1965). Thereafter the court directed the jury's attention to the defense of entrapment and made the following statements which are the bone of contention here:

No. 1
"Now, members of the jury, let\'s look at this matter for just a moment. We find that this agent was brought in here, this undercover agent as he is referred to, brought in here from New York, he was a stranger. You are entitled to take into account your common experiences in the affairs of life and wonder why he went out there, why would an undercover agent just walk into the city and go out to a particular address, to a particular individual, at that particular time unless there was some reason or justification for going. He fixed up a story about a girl, he never offered this man anything, he simply offered to buy marihuana."
* * * * * *
No. 2
"It is my opinion, members of the jury, as a legal matter, legal question, that if this Government informer went out there and simply said to this defendant that `A girl sent me here,\' nothing about girls, `Some girl sent me here and told me that you could supply me with marijuana,\' that\'s not entrapment, and that thereafter he sold it to him, then he is guilty, but it would not be entrapment to simply go out and afford him the opportunity and say, `Well, the girl sent me here,\' that does not constitute entrapment under the law."

At the outset we have grave doubt whether the exceptions of appellant to the instructions were sufficient to preserve the question of the propriety of the court's comments for review. The extent of the objection was: "also we take exception to the Court's comment on the evidence on the issues of the fact of entrapment."

Fed.R.Crim.P. 30 provides in part:

"No party may assign as error any portion of the charge or omission therefrom unless he objects thereto before the jury retires to consider its verdict, stating distinctly the matter to which he objects and the grounds of his objection."

In Armstrong v. United States, 228 F.2d 764, 768 (8th Cir. 1956), cert. denied, 351 U.S. 918, 76 S.Ct. 710, 100 L.Ed. 1450 (1956), we stated in effect that a party objecting to instructions must state specifically to what he objects and why. This rule has been followed in many cases. See, e. g. Boeing Airplane Company v. O'Malley, 329 F.2d 585, 597-598 (8th Cir. 1964); Johnson v. United States, 291 F.2d 150, 156 (8th Cir. 1961), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 880, 82 S.Ct. 130, 7 L.Ed.2d 80 (1961); Apperwhite v. Illinois Central Railroad Company, 239 F.2d 306, 310 (8th Cir. 1957).5

We have resolved the doubt in favor of appellant and go to the merits of his contention.

It is, of course, fundamental that in considering the correctness of the instructions we must examine and consider them as a whole. Whether the jury has been properly instructed cannot be determined from consideration of a single paragraph or phrase removed from context. Cf. Anderson v. United States, 262 F.2d 764 (8th Cir. 1959), cert. denied, 360 U.S. 929, 79 S.Ct. 1446, 3 L.Ed.2d 1543 (1959).

The precise question before us, i. e., the propriety of the trial judge's comments has, in one form or another, been the subject of consideration by reviewing courts in many criminal cases. As a result guidelines have been laid down, but there are no iron clad rules which may systematically be applied to each and every situation. Each case must stand on its own bottom and be decided in light of all pertinent facts.

The Supreme Court,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
18 cases
  • Tillman v. United States, 25381.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 10, 1969 fairly presented to the jury." Beck v. United States, 5 Cir., 1963, 317 F.2d 865, 871. See also Rowell v. United States, 8 Cir., 1966, 368 F.2d 957, 970. Furthermore, even if the omission of a charge on wilfulness as to Count Two was improper, the court cured this defect by so charging t......
  • Beardslee v. United States, 18565.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • December 21, 1967
    ...v. United States, 352 F.2d 100, 109-110 (8 Cir. 1965), cert. denied 383 U.S. 907, 86 S.Ct. 887, 15 L.Ed.2d 663; Rowell v. United States, 368 F.2d 957, 960-961 (8 Cir. 1966), cert. denied 386 U.S. 1009, 87 S. Ct. 1353, 18 L.Ed.2d We have read the court's instructions carefully and in their e......
  • Taylor v. United States, 18872.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 4, 1968
    ...v. United States, 367 F.2d 998, 1001-1003 (8 Cir. 1966), cert. denied 386 U.S. 943, 87 S.Ct. 976, 17 L.Ed.2d 874; Rowell v. United States, 368 F.2d 957, 959-961 (8 Cir. 1966), cert. denied 386 U.S. 1009, 87 S.Ct. 1353, 18 L.Ed.2d 438; Rush v. United States, 370 F.2d 520, 522-523 (8 Cir. 196......
  • United States v. Haley, 71-1192.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 6, 1972
    ...United States, 390 F.2d 278 (8 Cir. 1968), cert. denied 452 F.2d 403 393 U.S. 869, 89 S.Ct. 155, 21 L.Ed.2d 137; Rowell v. United States, 368 F.2d 957 (8 Cir. 1966), cert. denied 386 U.S. 1009, 87 S.Ct. 1353, 18 L.Ed.2d 438 (1967). Once the jury believed the agents' testimony, the defense o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT