U.S. v. Jackson, No. 76-2074

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore SPRECHER, TONE and BAUER; SPRECHER; TONE
Citation569 F.2d 1003
Decision Date06 January 1978
Docket NumberNo. 76-2074
Parties2 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 909 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Clifford JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 1003

569 F.2d 1003
2 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 909
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Clifford JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 76-2074.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued Sept. 15, 1977.
Decided Jan. 6, 1978.

Page 1005

Marc Kadish, Chicago, Ill., for defendant-appellant.

Thomas P. Sullivan, U. S. Atty., Joseph N. Hosteny, Asst. U. S. Atty., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before SPRECHER, TONE and BAUER, Circuit Judges.

SPRECHER, Circuit Judge.

The main issue in this appeal is whether the district court plainly erred in a criminal case by its failure to read an instruction to the jury as to the government's burden of proof on the issue of self-defense.

I

The case arises out of an altercation between the defendant, Clifford Jackson, and a federal correctional officer, William Neris, in the visiting room of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago, Illinois. The grand jury's indictment charged that the defendant assaulted, in violation of

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18 U.S.C. § 111, 1 a federal correctional officer while he was in the performance of his official duties. The case was tried over a four-day period before a jury and the defendant was found guilty. He was sentenced to three years in the custody of the Attorney General, consecutive to a fifteen-year sentence imposed in an unrelated case. The defendant appeals his assault conviction.

A brief recital of the evidence presented at trial will show the gist of the government's case and the basis for the defendant's claim that a clearer self-defense instruction was required. The prosecution relied primarily on the testimony of Officer Neris and three other witnesses present in the waiting room of the MCC during the fight. The testimony established that there was a general rule known to all visitors of the MCC that physical touching in the visiting room was limited to a single embrace upon entering and another upon leaving the room. The officer on duty in the visiting room was responsible, as part of his duties, for seeing to it that that rule was enforced.

Prior to the day of the altercation, Officer Neris had several times ordered the defendant and his wife to stop violating the visiting room's physical touching rule. 2 On the day of the incident, Officer Neris first told two of the prosecution's witnesses to stop kissing and then told the defendant and his wife to untangle their legs. 3

The defendant responded angrily and cursed loudly at Officer Neris (Tr. at 129, 220 and 365). Officer Neris turned away from the defendant, walked across the room and called the lieutenant, who was his supervisor, informing him that an inmate was shouting and asking him to send assistance. (Tr. at 129). Officer Neris then went to his desk which was on the other side of the room from where the defendant and his wife had been seated. (Tr. at 130, 220).

Defendant moved across the room toward the officer shouting at him, telling him to stop picking on defendant and his wife, and threatening to strike the officer. In response, Officer Neris told defendant to "try it." (Tr. at 131). Officer Neris claimed that the defendant then pushed him in response to which the officer picked up a plastic garbage can to use in self-defense. The defendant knocked it out of his hand and proceeded to knock him down, strike him in the face several times and push his head several times into a metal rail on a sofa. (Tr. at 132). Additional officers arrived at the visiting room, restrained the defendant after a struggle and took him away kicking and screaming. Officer Neris was not hospitalized, but he did miss a full week of work recuperating from the attack.

The defendant presented two witnesses on his behalf, Anise Jackson, his wife, and Frank Mora, an inmate who was in the visiting room at the time of the incident. Mrs. Jackson's testimony, corroborated by Mora's, 4 was the basis for the defendant's

Page 1007

claim of self-defense. She testified that in response to defendant's statements "Officer Neris picked up a waste basket . . . and was getting ready to swing it at Clifford (the defendant) and Clifford knocked it out of his hands." (Tr. at 438). Thus, it was the defendant's theory of the case that Officer Neris' act of picking up the plastic garbage can caused the defendant to respond reasonably with force in self-defense.

The district court held a hearing on instructions in accordance with Fed.R.Crim.P. 30. 5 In furtherance of the defendant's self-defense theory, his counsel prepared the following jury instruction:

To sustain the charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers or employees, the government must prove the following propositions:

1. That William Neris was an officer or employee of a United States penal institution.

2. That William Neris was engaged in the performance of his official duties.

3. That the Defendant Clifford Jackson forcibly resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, or interfered with William Neris.

4. That the Defendant was not justified in using the force which he used.

If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each of these propositions has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the Defendant guilty. If, on the other hand, you find from your consideration of all the evidence that any of these propositions has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the Defendant not guilty. 6

The instruction was objected to by the government and the court held that "Paragraph 4 should be made the subject of a separate instruction." (Tr. at 513). At that time, the court stated expressly that "the defendant is free to tender an instruction that covers Paragraph 4 . . . when we get to it." (Tr. at 513-14, 523).

After a recess, both the prosecutor and defense counsel tendered instructions on the self-defense issue. The defendant's proposed instruction specifically stated, "(i)f evidence of self-defense is present, the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense." 7 No comparable language

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appeared in the prosecutor's proposed instruction. 8 Nonetheless, the court announced that it would read the prosecutor's substantially shorter version to the jury. Defense counsel did not object to the instruction for its failure to make clear that the Government had the burden of proving the absence of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, counsel objected to the instruction on the basis that it inadequately advised the jury on the issue of the defendant's reasonable, but mistaken, belief that he was threatened with bodily harm. (Tr. at 528-29). At no time after this colloquy did the defendant object to the jury instruction on self-defense. 9

In the defendant's closing argument, however, he did make reference to the issue of the government's burden of proof as to the self-defense claim. Defense counsel argued:

If we interpose that which is called self-defense, we do not have to prove that it was self-defense but if that additional tree of self-defense is raised, then the Government has the burden too of knocking that down beyond a reasonable doubt.

We say the Government can't do it. 10

(Tr. at 565).

In instructing the jury, the court read the general instruction quoted earlier, without paragraph 4 included, which stated that the prosecution had the burden to prove all the elements of section 111 beyond a reasonable doubt and also read the prosecution's instruction on self-defense. 11 Thereafter, the jury deliberated and found the defendant guilty.

II

The jury instruction issue must be divided into two parts. First, did defense counsel adequately object to the court's self-defense instruction or did he instead waive that issue? Second, if the objection to the instruction was waived, did the district court's failure to read an instruction that clearly placed the burden of proof on the self-defense issue on the government nevertheless constitute "plain error?"

As to the waiver issue, we hold that the defendant did not adequately object to the court's instruction on self-defense. 12 A party's objection to a jury instruction

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must satisfy the requirement of Fed.R. Crim.P. 30 that counsel state "distinctly the matter to which he objects and the grounds of his objection." See United States v. Clavey, 565 F.2d 111, at 118 (7th Cir. 1977); United States v. Wright, 542 F.2d 975, 983-85 (7th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1073, 97 S.Ct. 810, 50 L.Ed.2d 790 (1977); 13 United States v. Hollinger, 553 F.2d 535, at 543 (7th Cir. 1977); United States v. Lawson, 507 F.2d 433, 443-44 (7th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 420 U.S. 1004, 95 S.Ct. 1446, 43 L.Ed.2d 762 (1975). The fact that counsel for the defense twice tendered valid burden of proof instructions that were rejected by the court is not sufficient to satisfy Rule 30. United States v. Lawson, supra, at 443-44; United States v. Gratton,525 F.2d 1161, 1162 (7th Cir. 1975). As this court held in Gratton:

The mere offer of the instruction does not preserve the error for appeal. If the party whose tendered instruction is refused fails to object to the refusal, stating distinctly the grounds of his objection, the Court of Appeals may review the refusal to instruct only to determine whether it constitutes plain error within the meaning of Fed.R.Crim.P. 52(b).

525 F.2d at 1162. Thus, this court has made clear its view that counsel has an affirmative obligation to make the district court aware of any errors in its decision to reject a jury instruction and that counsel cannot "rely" upon the court's "own examination amidst the diverse pressures existent during the closing phases of a trial." United States v. Wright, supra at 985.

A careful examination of the Rule 30 hearing held by the court below demonstrates that counsel for the defendant failed to make a distinct objection to the court's self-defense instruction on the basis that it...

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90 practice notes
  • Dixon v. United States, No. 05–7053.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 2006
    ...F.3d 699, 714, n. 1 (C.A.5 1996); Sixth Circuit Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions § 6.06 (2005); [548 U.S. 25]United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003, 1008, n. 12 (C.A.7 1978); United States v. Pierre, 254 F.3d 872, 876 (C.A.9 2001); United States v. Corrigan, 548 F.2d 879, 883 (C.A.10 197......
  • United States v. Martinez-Torres, No. SSS 82 CR. 489 (CBM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 11, 1983
    ...preserved for appeal. Fed.R. Crim.P. 30; United States v. Dixon, 536 F.2d 1388, 1397 (2d Cir.1976); see also United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 437 U.S. 907, 98 S.Ct. 3096, 57 L.Ed.2d 1137 (1978) (counsel has affirmative obligation to make the district court a......
  • U.S. v. Moya-Gomez, MOYA-GOMEZ
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 30, 1988
    ...instructional mistake had a probable impact on the jury's finding that the defendant was guilty." United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003, 1010 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 437 U.S. 907, 98 S.Ct. 3096, 57 L.Ed.2d 1137 (1978); see also Douglas, 818 F.2d at 1320 ("Plain error must be o......
  • U.S. v. Torres, Nos. 83-1083
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 25, 1984
    ...an improper jury instruction on this appeal. United States v. Verkuilen, 690 F.2d 648, 652-53 (7th Cir.1982); United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003, 1008-10 (7th Cir.1978) ("Jackson Despite the appellants waiver on the issue of the improper jury instruction, this court must still det......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
90 cases
  • Dixon v. United States, No. 05–7053.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 2006
    ...F.3d 699, 714, n. 1 (C.A.5 1996); Sixth Circuit Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions § 6.06 (2005); [548 U.S. 25]United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003, 1008, n. 12 (C.A.7 1978); United States v. Pierre, 254 F.3d 872, 876 (C.A.9 2001); United States v. Corrigan, 548 F.2d 879, 883 (C.A.10 197......
  • United States v. Martinez-Torres, No. SSS 82 CR. 489 (CBM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 11, 1983
    ...preserved for appeal. Fed.R. Crim.P. 30; United States v. Dixon, 536 F.2d 1388, 1397 (2d Cir.1976); see also United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 437 U.S. 907, 98 S.Ct. 3096, 57 L.Ed.2d 1137 (1978) (counsel has affirmative obligation to make the district court a......
  • U.S. v. Moya-Gomez, MOYA-GOMEZ
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 30, 1988
    ...instructional mistake had a probable impact on the jury's finding that the defendant was guilty." United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003, 1010 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 437 U.S. 907, 98 S.Ct. 3096, 57 L.Ed.2d 1137 (1978); see also Douglas, 818 F.2d at 1320 ("Plain error must be o......
  • U.S. v. Torres, Nos. 83-1083
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 25, 1984
    ...an improper jury instruction on this appeal. United States v. Verkuilen, 690 F.2d 648, 652-53 (7th Cir.1982); United States v. Jackson, 569 F.2d 1003, 1008-10 (7th Cir.1978) ("Jackson Despite the appellants waiver on the issue of the improper jury instruction, this court must still det......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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